The eagerly anticipated Saudi Cup race weekend is now just three weeks away. With a total prize purse of USD$29.2 million, including a record $20 million for the inaugural running of the 1,800m Saudi Cup, the two-day race weekend to be held on February 28 – 29 represents a significant evolution in Saudi Arabia’s racing history.

HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, has released a list of Saudi Cup day runners bristling with 22 individual Group or Grade 1 winners across an eight race card. In total King Abdulaziz Racecourse will host 61 overseas runners from eight countries who between them have won 34 Group or Grade 1 races.

The highlight of the card, the first running of the world’s richest race, will see the Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdulaziz-owned Mucho Gusto, trained to victory by Bob Baffert in last month’s Pegasus World Cup, take on Group 1 winning stablemate McKinzie.

Strength in depth

Speaking at a press conference at the Equestrian Club of Riyadh’s city clubhouse, Prince Bandar expressed his satisfaction at the strength in depth across the Saudi Cup card. “The establishment of the Saudi Cup is a great moment in the history of horseracing in Saudi Arabia and I am gratified that the global racing community has embraced our new concept with such enthusiasm,” he said. “I look forward to welcoming some of the world’s most highly decorated horsemen and women to Riyadh and am thrilled that so many champion international horses will be taking part on Saturday February 29.”

HRH Prince Bandar

The final places in the starting gates of the world’s richest horserace, the USD$20m Saudi Cup, will be drawn from local training ranks and decided this Saturday, following the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques race-day at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.

The Saturday of Saudi Cup race weekend, which takes place on February 29 and carries a prize purse of $29.2m, has attracted the best horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world. Held under the patronage of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Cup is the first international race weekend to be staged in Saudi Arabia, and seeks to reflect the primary themes of a vibrant society, thriving economy and a progressive nation set out in the Government-led Vision 2030.

High level sponsors

The Saudi Cup weekend is supported by a prestigious collection of Platinum Partners that share the vision of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. The first two of these to be announced is the country’s National Carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) and Swiss watchmaker, Longines. Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest brands and Platinum Partner and Official Airline of the Saudi Cup and Title Sponsor of the Saudia Sprint, part of the Saudi Cup card.

Vice President of Corporate Communications of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), Mr. Fahad Bahdailah, said: “Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is pleased to be supporting the highly-anticipated Saudi Cup, and welcomes guests from all around the world traveling to Saudi Arabia to participate and take in the festivities of the Saudi Cup.”

Longines, which has signed on as title sponsor of the highly anticipated Longines Turf    Handicap, is also the official watch and timekeeper of the Saudi Cup. Matthieu Baumgartner, Vice President Marketing of Longines said: “We are especially proud to start a new collaboration with the Saudi Cup as Official Partner, Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the event. This partnership reinforces our long-lasting passion for horse racing, which dates back more than 140 years. We are looking forward to being part of the first edition of this thrilling sports event.”

Adel Al Mazroa, General Manager of the Equestrian Club of Riyadh which runs King Abdulaziz Racecourse said: “The gaze of global racing will turn to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Cup with many of the world’s best horses, trainers and jockeys competing here in Riyadh on a unique occasion in Saudi’s history. However, the importance of local participation in the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup is also crucial. Without the support of local owners, trainers and all their supporting staff, it would be impossible to hold an event of this magnitude. We are truly excited to know that we will have locally-trained horses competing against the world’s best in the Saudi Cup. This will give the home crowd plenty of reasons to cheer on the big day.”

Thanking the Saudi Cup’s Platinum Partners, Mr Al Mazroa added: “We are absolutely delighted to have attracted the support of renowned international brands such as Longines and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), who view this event as we do; as a truly world class showpiece and the catalyst for even greater things to come.” Tickets to suit all budgets, including general admission and five-star luxury hospitality are available for the Saudi Cup race weekend from: Free family entertainment, gourmet food trucks and an unrivalled view of all the on-track action are available across race weekend.

A team of experts from International Venue Management is helping with the organisation of the Saudi Cup event.