Saudi Arabia to stage world’s richest race in 2020

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, announced that the Kingdom will stage the world’s richest horse race in 2020. (Supplied photo)
Updated 08 August 2019

Saudi Arabia to stage world’s richest race in 2020

  • The prize for the winning horse will be $10m, with horses down to 10th place sharing another $10m between them

JEDDAH: The world has a new richest race, with the announcement of the creation of the $20 million Saudi Cup, to be run at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Feb. 29, 2020.

Details of the contest were announced by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, at a launch event in Saratoga, New York, on Wednesday.

The race will be run on over a distance of nine furlongs (1,800 meters) on dirt, and will have a maximum field of 14 starters. The race will be free to enter and to participate in.

BACKGROUND

  • The Saudi Cup will take place four weeks after the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida, and four weeks prior to the Dubai World Cup. 
  • The Pegasus World Cup had a peak value of $16 million in 2018, while the Dubai World Cup is currently worth $12 million. 

The prize for the winning horse will be $10 million, with horses down to 10th place sharing another $10 million between them.

“The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horseracing in Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and also our ambition to become a leading player on horseracing’s world stage,” said Prince Bandar.

“We look forward to welcoming international horsemen and women, the media, racing enthusiasts and the public to Riyadh in 2020.” The Saudi Cup will take place four weeks after the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida, and four weeks prior to the Dubai World Cup. 

This means that the top horses in training have the opportunity to compete in all three of the most valuable dirt races in the world.

The Pegasus World Cup had a peak value of $16 million in 2018, while the Dubai World Cup is currently worth $12 million. 

In terms of turf races, the richest is in Australia (the Everest) and is worth $9.8 million. In Japan, the mark is $6 million for the Japan Cup. 

Europe’s most lucrative event, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, has a prize fund of $5.6 million.




Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, in Saratoga. (Supplied photo)

Prince Bandar’s connection to horses is an emotional one. Less than a century ago, his great grandfather King Abdul Aziz, a renowned rider and the founding father of modern Saudi Arabia, led his army into battle on horseback, earning himself the title “The Last Horseman.”

In 1932, King Abdul Aziz unified the kingdoms of Nejd and Hijaz, creating the sovereign state of Saudi Arabia. Horseracing soon became an important cultural event in the young nation. 

Its status was enhanced in 2003 with the opening of King Abdul Aziz Racetrack, with a 2,000-meter circumference, a three-furlong (600-meter) chute and a state-of-the-art dirt racing surface.

Many of the world’s leading jockeys have ridden regularly at the racetrack over the past few years, and have been impressed with its facilities.

“I’ve been going to King Abdul Aziz Racetrack ever since it opened … Of all the dirt tracks I’ve ridden, it’s the one I like best as you can win from the front and you can win from behind — it’s a fair track,” said Europe’s jockey of the moment, Frankie Dettori.




The King Abdullah Racetrack in Riyadh, the venue for the $20 million Saudi Cup, which will be the world's richest horse race. (Supplied photo)

“The other thing I like is that the kickback is so much less than on other dirt tracks. I don’t know why, but the sand seems finer and doesn’t stick. You only need a couple of pairs of goggles, where on other tracks you need four or five. It’s a kinder track that I can see turf horses handling.”

US jockey Edgar Prado said: “In my experience, all the time I rode at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack, I’ve found it good and safe with a nice stretch run. Horses handle it very well.”

France’s four-time champion jockey Olivier Peslier said: “King Abdul Aziz Racetrack is one of the best dirt tracks in the world — a wonderful track. And I know that the American jockeys like it very much because it really suits the American horses. It has a long straight, and there isn’t much kickback.”

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia will arrange and fund the shipment of all invited horses. It will also arrange and pay for the flights and hotel accommodation of the horses’ connections.

In addition to the Saudi Cup, there will be further international races on the undercard ahead of the showcase race. 

Further details of these supporting races and the full race program will be announced at a later date.


Saudi female bowlers off to Las Vegas tournament

Updated 22 August 2019

Saudi female bowlers off to Las Vegas tournament

  • The team’s six members will compete against the best women bowlers around the world

JEDDAH: The Saudi women’s bowling team left on Wednesday to participate in the sixth World Bowling Women’s Championship, a first in the history of Saudi bowling. The championship will be held at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas from Aug. 22-31.

The six bowlers who will participate in the championship are Mashael Al-Abdulwahid, Ghada Nimir and Amani Al-Ghamdi from Riyadh, Nahla Adas and Mariam Al-Dosari from Alkhobar and Hadeel Termein from Jeddah, under the supervision of British coach Mario Joseph.

The Saudi delegation will be headed by Badr bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh (head of the delegation), Dr. Razan Baker, team manager, Waleed Al-Dawsari, team director and media relations official Hamd Al-Shaghrood.

The team’s six members joined a training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the championship, and participated in three local open tournaments in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar this year. The team will participate in the singles, doubles, trios and team competitions.

In an interview with Adas, who won third place in the fourth Women’s Championship held in Alkhobar this year, said: “It is a great honor for me to participate in this world championship, and this is a feat by itself. I have always dreamed about standing next to the world’s women champions, and my dream is coming true now, after one year of effort and giving, under the leadership of the federation’s chairman Badr Al-Asheikh and his constant support. He is like a leader who ventures out, challenges and allows us to compete for a bright vision full of achievements in the Arab world and internationally.”

In a history-making feat the Saudi national women’s bowling team will participate in the World Bowling Women’s Championship in Las Vegas. (Photo/Supplied)

Nimir spoke about the playoffs in Riyadh, having scored the highest total: “From the beginning to the end of the playoffs which qualified me for the world championship, I was able to win first place in Riyadh. This feeling has been indescribable, a dream come true due to my love for the game, practice as a hobby then as a professional and now participation in the world championship. I am very happy to participate in this international and historical event, and I hope we achieve a positive result in this championship. I also thank the Saudi Federation with all its members for their efforts and this opportunity they gave us.”

As for Al-Ghamdi, she spoke about her passion for bowling which pushed her to reach an international level. She said: “Bowling is a sophisticated sport that requires concentration, training, perseverance and skills, and the women’s empowerment we are witnessing today has greatly contributed to our presence in all the local and international events. That is why I cannot describe my feelings to have qualified for the world championship, and I am grateful for your support of our dear and beloved country.”

“I am very happy to participate in this international and historical event, and I hope we achieve a positive result in this championship.

Ghada Nimir

Al-Abdulwahid, who won the bronze medal at the federation’s women’s championships in 2018 and 2019, said: “I cannot describe my happiness to see my dream come true, and this is my first move toward my goal. I have had this dream since I was a child, and I am proud to have qualified among the best players of the Saudi national team in order to participate in the world championship which is a precious chance. I am lucky to be honored to play with professionals from all over the world, which will give me confidence and experience in my bowling career, and I hope that our presence will be honorable, positive and fruitful for the rest of the players and motivate them to excel.”

Termein said: “I am happy and proud to represent my country first, and my city second since I am the only qualified player from Jeddah. I aim to reach advanced rankings in the championship, and I would like to thank the Saudi Bowling Federation for giving us the chance to join the international championship.”

Al-Dosari, who also won a bronze medal in the federation’s championship in 2018, expressed her happiness saying: “I am grateful and proud to have this opportunity and qualify to participate in the international championship to represent the Kingdom. I consider this a great honor and I am very excited seeking to give my best performance.”