RIYADH • Saudi Arabia will host the world's richest horse race at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh next year, with a purse of US$20 million (S$27.6 million) up for grabs, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia said yesterday.
The Saudi Cup, which will be run over nine furlongs (1,800m) on dirt on Feb 29, will have a maximum 14 runners, with the winner set to land US$10 million.
The prize money will eclipse the US$16 million purse at the Pegasus World Cup in Florida last year.
"The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia," Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal said in a statement.
"We look forward to welcoming international horsemen and women, the media, racing enthusiasts and the public to Riyadh in 2020."
Three-time Champion Jockey of British flat racing, Frankie Dettori, is confident the event will be a success .
"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," he said of the King Abdulaziz track.
"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."
French champion jockey Olivier Peslier also told The National that it was "a wonderful track", adding: "I know that the American jockeys like it very much because it really suits the American horses."
The Abu Dhabi daily said the Riyadh event is the latest in a string of big-money horse racing events to be held in the Gulf region. Last month, organisers announced the Nov 22 staging of the Bahrain International Trophy, a £200,000 (S$336,000) race on turf.