The Obaiya Cup for Purebred Arabians held over 2000m will now be worth $2m
29 September 2020, Saudi Arabia ~The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) has announced the return of the world’s richest horse race, the $20m Saudi Cup, as well as a prize money increase and a new international race, all scheduled to take place from 19-20 February 2021.
Saudi Cup Day, Saturday, 20 February 2021 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
At a series of press events held via video link around the world from King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, HRH Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, built on the success of the inaugural Saudi Cup 2020. Prince Bandar revealed that prize money across the Saudi Cup card would increase from $29.2m to $30.5m.
“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 caliber in year one.”
The 2020 staging of the Saudi Cup weekend showcased a number of “firsts” for the Kingdom and saw the JCSA plan and deliver two days of racing on the world stage. As well as raising the profile of Saudi Arabia as a racing and sporting venue, the event successfully introduced the country’s first turf track, a surface acclaimed by jockeys and trainers, and celebrated the first female jockeys not only to ever ride under rules in the country, but also to win races.
Scheduled a week earlier than the inaugural event, the free to enter – free to run 1800m $20m 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 $1.5m. The Obaiya Cup for Purebred Arabians held over 2000m will now be worth $2m, up from $1.9m while the purse for The Jockey Club Local Handicap will double to $1m 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. In addition, the Friday card will be boosted by a new race, the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap over 2,100m of the turf track.
The International Jockey’s Challenge
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.
“The 2020 event was a great beginning but now we turn our attention to year two and to taking on board the lessons we learned from year one. We will be using that knowledge to steer the JCSA and the Saudi Cup weekend to new heights, building regional and international bridges within the industry to engage with global racing fans, inspire domestic involvement and enhance not only our own offering but that of racing as a global sport.”
Tom Ryan the JCSA’s Director of Strategy and International Racing said: “To have the sport’s key players bring their horses to an untested and unproven event and furthermore to see the progressive form that those horses have displayed since is something for the JCSA to be proud of. The strength of form to come out of our event acts as a great advert to trainers and owners next year.
Ryan acknowledged the significant global challenges to holding international sporting events saying: “It is nevertheless a difficult time to stage large-scale global events and we know that now the real hard work begins. We will keep the lines of communication open and work closely with the authorities as we seek to hold this event in the best and safest way possible.”
Saudi Cup At A Glance
Prize money to rise from $29.2m to $30.5m, an increase of $1.3m.
The Saudi Cup remains the world’s richest horse race at $20m.
Three of the 8 races have increased prize money.
The Saudi Derby, the race in which French classic winner Mishriff was runner up in 2020, has been increased from $800,000 to $1.5m
The Obaiya Arabian Classic will be worth $2m up from $1.9m
The Jockey Club Local Handicap will be worth $1m up from $500,000.
The card to be completed by The Red Sea Turf Handicap ($2.5m), The Riyadh Dirt Sprint ($1.5m), The Neom Turf Cup ($1m) and The 1351 Turf Sprint ($1m).