A TOTAL of 14 Irish trainers have made entries for the Saudi Cup raceday in Saudi Arabia on February 29th, when there will be over €26 million in prize money on offer.
American-trained horses are expected to dominate the feature race, which is run on dirt, but the Irish raiders are likely to have a big say in both the €2.25 million turf handicap over 15 furlongs, and the €900,000 Neom Turf Cup over 10 and a half furlongs.
The €18 million Saudi Cup, over nine furlongs, will be the richest race ever staged and the ante-post favourite is Maximum Security. First past the post but disqualified in the Kentucky Derby last year, the Jason Servis-trained colt is now part-owned by Coolmore. Midnight Bisou (Steve Asmussen) and McKinzie (Bob Baffert) are likely challengers.
Aidan O’Brien has entered globe-trotting mare Magic Wand but she is thought more likely to go for the 10-furlong Neom Turf Cup.
Stable companion Kew Gardens heads the weights for the Red Sea Turf Handicap. Only 14 horses can run in each race and the task of whittling down the entries rests with former British Horseracing Authority senior handicapper Phil Smith.
Tom Ryan, former manager of Naas Racecourse and now director of strategy and international racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said: “The response to the Saudi Cup from the international racing community has been fantastic.
“We couldn’t be happier with the entries that we’ve received and we are now fully focused on putting on a spectacular first Saudi Cup race day to live up to the calibre of these entries.”