The international thirst for horse racing has helped the betting industry massively in recent years and the boom shows no signs of slowing down.
It does not seem too long ago that we were in the midst of the build-up to the Breeders’ Cup, yet we are already looking forward to the new season.
The Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup dominate proceedings during the early part of the year, with each race offering truly eye-watering prize money.
Read on as we take a closer look at both races and assess some of the most likely contenders to bag a bumper payday.
The two-day meeting in February is a lucrative festival of top-class international racing headlined by the $20 million Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable horse race.
The Saudi Cup day card carries a total prize purse of $31.5m and attracts some of the best dirt and turf performers from across the planet.
The event is designed to raise awareness of horse racing in Saudi Arabia and help the country encourage increased tourism and investment in the region.
Maximum Security won the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup in 2020, while John Gosden’s Mishriff was an impressive winner last year.
Sealiway could start his 2022 campaign in the Saudi Cup after running out an impressive winner of the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his most recent outing.
The Cedric Rossi-trained horse beat a strong field on that occasion including Dubai Honour, Mac Swiney, Mishriff and Adayar.
He was also second behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Prix du Jockey Club earlier in the season, before running well to finish fifth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Sealiway had gone under the radar a little before his success at Ascot, but he will be strongly fancied to continue his upward trajectory in the Saudi Cup.
Dubai World Cup
The 26th Dubai World Cup meeting in March now has a total purse of more than $30.5 million, with all races offering at least $1m in prize money.
The Dubai World Cup race was created in 1996 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and always attracts a top-class international field.
The legendary Cigar won the first-ever Dubai World Cup, while Dubai Millennium, Curlin and Arrogate are amongst the other names on the roll of honour.
Godolphin have dominated proceedings in recent years, with Thunder Snow (twice) and Mystic Guide their most recent winners of the race.
Mystic Guide is expected to be back to defend his crown in 2022 after successfully recovering from surgery to fix a minor chip in his front right knee.
However, trainer Saeed bin Suroor may well have other ideas having won the race on nine precious occasions.
He usually assembles a strong team for the meeting and is likely to have at least one fancied runner in the Dubai World Cup.
Charlie Appleby is another Godolphin trainer who does well at the meeting, although he is yet to saddle a winner in the big race.