RIYADH: The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) on Tuesday announced the return of the world’s richest horse race, the $20-million Saudi Cup, as well as a prize money increase and a new international race.
The race will take place on February 19 and 20, 2021.
At a series of press events held via video link from King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, HRH Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, was keen to build on the success of the inaugural Saudi Cup.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Scheduled a week earlier than the inaugural event, the free to enter – free to run 1,800m $20 million Saudi Cup remains the highlight of an eight-race card, which now features a boost to the prize money of three dirt races on the undercard.
The 1600m Saudi Derby sees an increase from $800,000 to $1.5 million. The Obaiya Cup for Purebred Arabians held over 2000m will now be worth $2 million, up from $1.9 million, while the purse for The Jockey Club Local Handicap will double to $1 million up from $500,000.
The International Jockeys Challenge, held the Friday before Saudi Cup will once again see 14 of the world’s best jockeys, seven women, five international men and two Saudi-based jockeys, compete for a championship purse of $100,000 and 15 per cent of prize money.
Lisa Allpress became the first woman to win a race in Saudi Arabia in 2020 when the four-time New Zealand champion claimed the opening leg of the challenge. The overall title was won by another woman, Swiss jockey, Sibylle Vogt with French female rider, Mickaelle Michel second and US Hall of Famer, Mike Smith third. Each of the four legs of the Jockeys Challenge are again worth $400,000 in prize money and contested on the dirt track.
In 2020 the Saudi Cup card saw 64 foreign runners, representing ten different countries, take on 26 locally trained rivals in the seven international races. Five of these races witnessed overseas victories. The 2021 Saudi Cup weekend is set to surpass this number with the announcement of a new race, held on the Friday.