Saudi Cup

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The Saudi Cup (Arabic: كأس السعودية) is an international horse race held annually at the end of February at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the richest horse race ever held, with a $20 million purse. It is the main highlight race of the Saudi Cup Night.

Saudi Cup
Group 1 race
LocationRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
Inaugurated2020
Race typeThoroughbred - Flat racing
Race information
Distance1,800 meters
SurfaceDirt and Turf
TrackKing Abdulaziz Racetrack
Weightthesaudicup.com.sa/en
Purse$20,000,000
1st:$10,000,000
Saudi Cup
2024
Royal blue, white inverted chevron, white sleeves, two blue armlets Emerald green, yellow sash and armlets White, black braid and cuffs
Senor Buscador Ushba Tesoro Saudi Crown
Previous years
2023
Royal blue, green armlets, red and white halved cap Blue, red sash, white sleeves, white cap Yellow, black sash and sleeves
Panthalassa Country Grammer Cafe Pharoah
2022
White, royal blue braces and cap Blue, red sash, white sleeves, red cap Maroon, white circle, white hoops on sleeves, white cap
Emblem Road Country Grammer Midnight Bourbon
2021
Maroon, Grey epaulets Blue, yellow star, diamonds on sleeves, yellow cap Red, white epaulets, white cap
Mishriff Charlatan Great Scot
2020
Royal blue, orange disc, striped sleeves and cap Red, white sleeves, red spots and cuffs, red cap Royal blue
Maximum Security Midnight Bisou Benbatl
 

Race details

The race is notable for its 20 million dollar purse, which makes it the most lucrative event in horse racing.

The race is held four weeks after the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida, and four weeks before the $12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, making it possible for horses in those races to compete.

In 2021, the Pegasus World Cup in the United States and the Champions Cup in Japan were "Win and You're In" qualifiers for the Saudi Cup.

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities' Grading and Race Planning Advisory Committee assigned Group 1 status to the Saudi Cup before its third running, scheduled for February 2022.

The festival is accompanied by cultural events in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Saudi heritage fashion expert Dr. Laila Albassam, and illustrator Norah Sahman – who co-developed the Saudi Cup Dress Code. Attendees dress in styles inspired by the heritage costumes worn across the Kingdom. The event also offers traditional foods, live musical concerts, art shows, and performances from various parts of Saudi Arabia.

History

2020

The first edition of the race was held on February 29, 2020. It was won by an American horse, Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced two months later that it would withhold Maximum Security's purse money pending an investigation, following the indictment of trainer Jason Servis in the United States. Nearly four years after the inaugural race, in January 2024 the Jockey Club formally recommended Maximum Security's disqualification. The Jockey Club claimed that Servis, who was convicted in December 2022 by pleading guilty to two charges related to drug misbranding and adulteration, committed "substantial breaches of the rules." The matter was referred to the Stewards' Committee, which will conduct a hearing into the matter at a later date.

2021

The second edition of the Saudi Cup was held on Saturday, 20 February 2021, at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman (on behalf of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz) crowned horse owner Prince Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Faisal after his horse Mishriff won the race. He also congratulated its trainer, John Gosden, and jockey, David Egan, who received a figurine of a horse and a jockey’s helmet, respectively.

The race, which is the richest horse race in the world with a total prize money worth $30.5 million, attracts top horses, trainers, and jockeys from across the globe. A total of 77 horses took part from 13 countries with the winner taking home a grand prize of $20 million.

The participating field included Maximum Security, Benbatl, Midnight Bisou, Mucho Gusto, and Tacitus under the supervision of world-renowned trainers like American Bob Baffert, Briton John Gosden, American Steven Asmussen, and his compatriot Brad Cox, as well as local trainers Abdullah bin Mishriff and Shaleh Alodhiaani.

2022

In the third edition of the Saudi Cup, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz crowned Prince Saud bin Salman, owner of Emblem Road, with the race title at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.

This edition saw a new Guinness World Record being set, with the most expensive single-horse race being held with prize money exceeding 75 million Saudi riyals.

The remaining races on the final day were won by the horse Authority, owned by Silk Racing Co. Ltd. in the first race; the second race by the horse Songline, owned by Sunday Racing Ltd.; the third race by the horse Stay Foolish, owned by Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd.; the fourth race by the horse Ann Alawaan owned by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s sons; the fifth race by the horse Hadi De Carrere owned by Khalifa Al Kuwari; the sixth race by the horse Pinehurst owned by Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing; and the seventh race by the horse Dancing Prince owned by Chizu Yoshida.

2023

In the fourth edition of the Saudi Cup, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman crowned Hiroo Race Co., the Japanese owner of the horse Panthalassa, the race winner and Saudi Cup champion, receiving $10 million.

The following horses occupied positions two to six in the $20 million race: Country Grammar, Cafe Pharoah, Geoglyph, Crown Pride, and Emblem Road.

The total prize money for the fourth edition that was held under the slogan We Race the World totaled $35 million.

2024

In the fifth edition of the Saudi Cup, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman crowned Sharaf Al Hariri, owner of the horse Senor Buscador, for winning the race that was held on 24 February 2024 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh while also receiving a cash prize of $20 million.

The second race was won by the horse Asfan Al Khalediah, owned by Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz’s sons; the third race was won by the horse King Shalaa, owned by Wathnan Racing; the fourth race was won by the Japanese horse Forever Young owned by Susumu Fujita; the fifth race was won by the Japanese horse Remake owned by Koji Maeda; and the sixth race was won by the horse Annaf owned by Fosnic Racing.

The Peter Done, Sir Alex Ferguson, and Ged Mason-owned horse Spirit Dancer won the seventh race, while the eighth race was won by the horse Tower of London owned by D. Smith, Mrs. J. Magnier, M. Tabor, and Westerberg.

This edition was the most valuable horseracing event in the world with a total prize worth $37.6 million.

Winners

Year Winner Foaled Trained Owned Age Jockey Trainer Owner Time
2024 Senor Buscador   United States   United States   United States 6 Junior Alvarado Todd W. Fincher Joe R. Peacock Jr. & Sharaf Al Hariri (two race-lease) 1:49.50
2023 Panthalassa   Japan   Japan   Japan 6 Yutaka Yoshida [ja] Yoshito Yahagi Hiroo Race Co., Ltd. 1:50.80
2022 Emblem Road   United States   Saudi Arabia   Saudi Arabia 4 Wigberto S. Ramos Mitab Almulawah Prince Saud Bin Salman Abdulaziz 1:50.53
2021 Mishriff   Ireland   United Kingdom   Saudi Arabia 4 David Egan John Gosden Prince Abdul Rahman al Faisal 1:49.59
2020 Maximum Security*   United States   United States   United States 4 Luis Saez Jason Servis Gary L & Mary E West, Mrs J Magnier, M Tabor & D Smith 1:50.59

*Maximum Security's first-place purse has been held pending an investigation by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has recommended disqualification of Maximum Security and is currently pending approval from the Stewards Committee. If approved, Midnight Bisou would be elevated as the winner.

The fastest time of the race is 1:49.50 made by Senor Buscador in 2024

See also

References