The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has announced five new international support races to the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, which will take place in Riyadh at the end of February.
On the back of revealing the $20 million dollar feature event recently, it has been announced there will be three races to be run on a new turf course on the same card.
There will be a staying handicap over just short of two miles, worth $1.5 million to the winner, a contest over an extended 10 furlongs, worth $1 million, and a sprint over nearly seven furlongs with the same prize money on offer.
There will also be a six-furlong dirt race and one over a mile restricted to three-year-olds on February 29th.
Frankie Dettori has ridden in Saudi Arabia before and is already a fan of the dirt course. “The quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none,” he said.
“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 29th.”
John Gosden was another to offer his support for the new venture. He 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 – and HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, is excited about staging turf racing for the first time.
“We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion, and we will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races,” he said.
“I am especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time. Things are really beginning to take shape.”