Lucrative Saudi Cup undercard stakes announced for 2020

Edited Press Release
September 16, 2019 09:04am

The world’s richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup, will be supported by a lucrative undercard on Feb. 29, 2020. HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, announced five new international races at a Saudi Cup launch event Monday in London.

With the Saudi Cup staged at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, three of the five undercard races will be run on a new turf course, with the other two contested over the main dirt track where the nine-furlong feature runs. Purse money for these newly announced events totals $6.8 million. They are:

 A staying handicap on turf over 15 furlongs worth $2.5 million.

 A middle-distance turf race over 10.5 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up worth $1 million.

 A turf sprint over 6.7 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up worth $1 million.

 A dirt sprint over 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up worth $1.5 million.

 A dirt mile race for 3-year olds over 8 furlongs worth $800,0000.

‘We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion," 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."

The launch, compered by Nick Luck and Britney Eurton, was attended by trainers and jockeys keen to hear about the lucrative new race day. Leading trainer John Gosden said, "These races will offer terrific targets for a range of horses – from sprinters to stayers, plus a mile race for 3-year-olds which is worth a good deal more than the early classics. I’m already thinking about which horses I could take.’

One familiar face to have frequently raced in Saudi Arabia is Frankie Dettori, who also appeared on stage at the event. He said, "The quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none. 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 Saudi Cup will have a maximum field of 14 runners, with the prize for the winning horse $10 million and finishers through 10th sharing another $10 million. A number of U.S. connections have mentioned the race, including trainers John Sadler (Gift Box, Catalina Cruiser, Higher Power, etc.) and Bret Calhoun (Mr. Money). Two others to have run in America but now based in Dubai, Gronkowski and Axelrod, are also pointing to the Saudi Cup.

Horse racing in the Saudi Arabia 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," Bandar said. "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."


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