Saudi Arabia is to stage the richest horse race in history next year with a $20 million prize pot up for grabs in the latest venture to attract world-class sporting events to the nation.
The new Saudi Cup will comfortably eclipse horse racing’s previous richest individual race, the Pegasus World Cup, which peaked at a purse of $16 million in 2018 before dropping back behind the $12M Dubai World Cup.
The race will be free to enter and will be contested by a maximum of 14 horses with the winner pocketing $10 million, the second receiving $3.5 million and the remaining purse handed out to the rest of the field.
The Saudi Cup will take place at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on February 29 — between the Pegasus and the Dubai World Cup — and will be contested on dirt over nine furlongs (1,800 meters).
The announcement comes just days after the country revealed plans to host a Formula 1 grand prix as soon as the 2021 season.
“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, and 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,” said Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal at the launch event Wednesday night in Saratoga, New York State.
“We look forward to welcoming international horsemen and women, the media, racing enthusiasts and the public to Riyadh in 2020.”
Veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori said in a statement announcing the race: “I’ve been going to King Abdulaziz Racetrack ever since it opened. Of all the dirt tracks I’ve ridden, it’s the one I like best, as you can win from the front, and you can win from behind — it’s a fair track.”