Saudi Cup: Richest horse race in the world offers $20M prize pot

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The race is offering an incredible $20 million prize purse — with a staggering $10 million going to the team behind the winning horse.

It will overtake the Dubai World Cup — with a purse of $12 million in 2019 — as racing’s most lucrative prize as the kingdom continues its big-money push onto the global sporting stage.

“This is headline-grabbing stuff and it’s more about making a statement about Saudi Arabia to announce itself to the racing world and create something that’s a statement of intent,” said Alastair Donald, of global race promoter the International Racing Bureau.

Sportswashing?

The nine-furlong dirt race will be contested at the King Abdulaziz racetrack in the country’s capital and comes after a number of recent sporting spectacles in the region.

Saudi Arabia has already hosted two Formula E races, the Spanish Super Cup and a number of European Tour golf events, and was the controversial location for Anthony Joshua’s much anticipated rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr. last year.
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Human Rights groups have raised concerns that the rise in sporting spectacles is part of a “sportswashing” program in the country — where governments use the hosting of major events to divert attention away from human rights issues.

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns, said participants in the new spectacle should realize it was “just the latest lucrative sporting event in Saudi Arabia’s intensifying efforts to ‘sportswash’ its abysmal human rights record.”

He added: “While the Saudi Cup’s eye-wateringly large prize money is getting a lot of attention, the appalling human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is arguably the bigger story.

“We’d ask everyone involved in the Saudi Cup to properly familiarize themselves with the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and be prepared to speak out about it.”

HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said the event was “without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia” and showed the country’s “ambition to become a leading player” in the sport.

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Racing royalty is expected to be joined by 10,000 spectators for the festival of racing that will include seven other races over dirt and turf.

Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori is expected to make the trip to the Saudi Arabia along with a host of other well-known riders.

Organizers said they were keen for female jockeys to participate in its inaugural running and Nicola Currie is set to ride in the showpiece event.

Maximum Security

On the track, a host of elite runners stand a chance of claiming the bumper prize package.

American raider Maximum Security is perhaps the brightest star and is among the favorites to win the coveted prize.

Despite winning at the highest level, the four-year-old is probably most famous for his disqualification from the Kentucky Derby last year.

It was the first time a Derby “winner” was denied victory because of interference on the track, and the horse was subsequently pulled from the second leg of the Triple Crown — the Preakness Stakes.

Maximum Security had led from wire to wire in the Derby but will face perhaps his toughest competition in Saudi Arabia.

To claim the $10 million prize, he will have to beat the likes of Mucho Gusto, which won the $9 million Pegasus World Cup — formerly the world’s richest race — earlier this year.

Midnight Bisou and McKinzie are widely considered the other top contenders in the race which promises to have a huge impact on the sport.



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