The world's richest horse race, the $20m Saudi Cup, will have undercard worth further $6.8m

Organisers announce five-race undercard, three of which will be run on a new turf course at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack 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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The organisers of the $20 million (Dh73.4m) Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race, announced a five-race undercard worth a further $6.8m for the inaugural meeting on February 29.

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, made the announcement at London’s Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly on Monday.

Three of the five supporting races on the undercard will be run on a new turf course, with the other two taking place on dirt, which the 1,800m Saudi Cup itself will be contested.

The support races on the turf are: a staying handicap run over 3,000m, a middle-distance over 2,100m, a sprint over 1,350m while the two races on dirt are over 1200m and 1,600m.

“We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion,” Prince Bandar said.

“And we will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races. I am especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time. Things are really beginning to take shape.”

In attendance were some of the leading trainers and jockeys in Britain, all keen to hear about the lucrative new race day.

John Gosden, who has trained over 3,000 winners internationally, said: “These races will offer terrific targets for a range of horses – from sprinters to stayers, plus a mile race for three-year-olds which is worth a good deal more than the early classics. I’m already thinking about which horses I could take.”

The Saudi Cup will be staged at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh which has been hosting racing and international jockeys for many years.

One familiar, face to have frequently race in Saudi Arabia is Frankie Dettori, who also appeared on stage at the event.

“The quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none,” said the Italian jockey, who has ridden 16 Group 1 winners so far this year. “I’ve ridden European horses on it, and they take to it really well, and the new turf track will give the day even more appeal.

“The welcome awaiting any jockey competing in the Kingdom is exceptional. The hospitality of the Saudi racing fraternity is amazing and there is a real passion for the sport. I hope I’ll be there on the starting line come February 29.”

The feature race of the event – the Saudi Cup itself, will have a maximum field of 14 runners with a whopping $10m to the winner and the remaining $10m shared with horses down to 10th place.

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

“The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia,” said Prince Bandar.

“It demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and also our ambition to become a leading player on horse racing’s world stage.”