Organisers add two more races to support world's richest horse race, the $20m Saudi Cup

Race for Purebred Arabians and a handicap for thoroughbreds trained in Saudi now added to the undercard for February 29 meet in Riyadh

The King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, which will host the Saudi Cup, in February 2020. Courtesy of Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia
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Two more races have been added to the undercard of the world’s richest horse race, the Saudi Cup, to take place in the Kingdom next year, organisers have announced.

The inaugural meeting of the $20 million (Dh73.4m) Saudi Cup takes place on February 29 at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh with a race for Purebred Arabians and a handicap for thoroughbreds trained in Saudi now added to race day.

The meeting consists of eight races with total prize money increased to $29.2m.

“Our Saudi Cup day is providing all of us here in the racing community of Saudi Arabia with wonderful new opportunities,” said Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia.

“For the first time, Saudi jockeys, trainers and owners will be able to pit their talents and their horses against some of the best in the sport. The chance to compete against the world’s finest is the chance to learn from the best.

“The Saudi Cup is about creating an iconic moment in the global racing calendar, but also – at its heart – it is about growing our sport in the Kingdom for the Kingdom.”

The race for Purebred Arabians, run over the 2,000-metre trip on dirt, comes with prize money of $1.9 million, with $500,000 going to the winner of the 1,800m handicap for thoroughbreds trained in Saudi Arabia.

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia disclosed details of the autumn race schedule and new rules regarding race day medication, bringing the Kingdom in line with international standards.

Horse racing in the Kingdom stretches back more than five decades, since the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1965.

Prince Bandar said he hopes the Saudi Cup will "excite new generations" to become more involved with the sport of kings.

“Our people have raced their horses across the dunes for many centuries,” he said.

“Now the passion is a mature sport with 50 years of organisation behind us. The Saudi Cup will help us demonstrate our sport to our fellow Saudis, and it is our hope that this marvelous day of sport will excite new generations with the thrill of racing.”

Entries for the races closes on January 7, 2020 with the races limited to 14 starters.

The feature race – the Saudi Cup – run over the 1,800m distance comes with a $10m winner's with the remaining $10m shared with horses down to 10th place.

The race card also includes a staying handicap run over 3,000m, a middle-distance over 2,100m and a sprint over 1,350m, all on turf.

The four races on dirt are over the 1200m and 1,600m, and the two races announced on Monday, a handicap exclusively for horses trained in the Kingdom and an international race for the Arabians.