Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Prize money for Saudi Cup 2021 increased to $30.5 million

Saudi Cup meeting will take place on February 20 with eight races on the card

Luis Saez wins the Saudi Cup 2020 on Maximum Security at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack Reuters
Luis Saez wins the Saudi Cup 2020 on Maximum Security at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack Reuters

Next year's Saudi Cup will see an additional race as well as an extra $1.3 million in prize money, organisers said.

The International Jockeys Challenge takes place on February 19 followed by the Saudi Cup meeting featuring eight races, including the new $500,000 Saudi International Handicap as well as the $20 million Saudi Cup - the world's richest horse race - the following day.

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA), said he was confident of building on last year's successful first staging of the Saudi Cup with next year's prize pot now $30.5 million.

“It’s hard to overstate the success of Saudi Cup 2020 when you consider that in year one of a brand-new international racing event we attracted some of the very best horses, trainers and jockeys in the world,” Prince Bandar said during the launch ceremony via video link from Riyadh.

“We witnessed 22 individual Group or Grade 1 winners, who had accumulated an impressive 34 wins at that level between them.

“That would be an excellent statistic for even the most well-established race meetings in the world, let alone to have that calibre in year one.”

The Saudi Cup, run over the 1,800-metre distance on dirt, is the highlight of the eight-race card, which now features three dirt races on the undercard.

The 1,600m Saudi Derby sees an increase in prize money from $800,000 to $1.5 million. The Obaiya Cup for Purebred Arabians held over 2,000m is now worth $2 million, and the purse for The Jockey Club Local Handicap will double to $1 million.

The American raider Maximum Security under Luis Saez won the Saudi Cup from another American runner Midnight Bisou with Godolphin’s Benbatl finishing third at the inaugural Saudi Cup earlier this year.

However, the prize money of the winner has been withheld until federal prosecutors in the United States complete investigations on Maximum Security’s trainer Jason Servis, who is among more than two dozen trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors accused of doping horses.

“This is a very unusual situation and not one that any of us had anticipated but the prize money will be paid out as we have done to everyone else once it’s cleared from what’s happening legally in the US,” Prince Bandar explained.

“I expect this to be resolved in one way or another and the money will be paid out. The difficulty we are having here halfway across the world is when that’s going to be.

“We respect the legal system in the US. In one way, I am personally very encouraged that the US is taking an active stand against prohibited substances used on horses.”

The inaugural Saudi Cup drew 64 overseas runners from 10 countries in seven races. Prince Bandar says he expects next year's meeting to be even better.

“With the changes we bring to Saudi Cup 2021 we hope to offer the racing and sporting public the most interesting and intriguing race cards possible, whether they are able to be with us in person or watching from home,” Prince Bandar added.

“The 2020 event was a great beginning but now we turn our attention to year two and to taking on board the lessons we learned from year one.”

Tom Ryan, the JCSA’s director of strategy and international racing, acknowledged the significant global challenges to holding international sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is nevertheless a difficult time to stage large-scale global events and we know that now the real hard work begins,” he said.

“We will keep the lines of communication open and work closely with the authorities as we seek to hold this event in the best and safest way possible.”

Updated: September 29, 2020 05:51 PM

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