Saudi Cup: 4 Graded Contests Set to Create “Road to Riyadh” for Top Japanese & USA Horses

Saudi Cup

Maximum Security won the inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup. (Photo credit: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice).

This year, the Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup is set to be run on dirt at Gulfstream Park in Florida on the 23rd January 2021. The winner will be offered a confirmed place at the starting gate of the $20 million Saudi Cup. Last year, the top position was taken by HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Al Saud’s Mucho Gusto which was trained by the US Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

Next year, an additional race will be added, in the form of a 1900 meter race for the Pegasus World Cup on turf. The winner will then be entered into the $1 million middle-distance turf handicap on the Saudi Cup day, which itself is a qualifier for the $1 million middle-distance turf handicap. This year, it was the first-ever turf race in Saudi’s history, happening on its very own purpose-built grass track. The win went to Fawzi Nass’s Port Lion which was trained in Bahrain, with Adrie de Vries, a Dutchman rider.

Other new races include the $1.96 million Champions Cup, something that was born from the JCSA working with the Japanese Racing Association. This race is held on an 1800 meter distance on a dirt track at Chukyo Racecourse and is a second qualifying race for the Saudi Cup itself.

Another race will be launched on the 13th December at Nakayama Racecourse in the form of a 1200 meter grade 3 race called Capella Stakes. With a purse of $703,000, it will serve as a qualifying race for the Riyadh Dirt Sprint which is worth $1.5 million and is over the same distance. A Saudi International Handicap will also be introduced, worth $500,000. A race for horses from countries falling into part 2 or 3 races.

Who Will You Bet on in 2021?

As well as the usual races on offer, new ones are being brought out in 2021, featuring exciting new tracks, prizes and locations. While betters might struggle this year without actually seeing horses live, predictions made by bookmakers and other experts seem pretty reliable, with Mishriff deservedly at the top position. For larger racing events, sports betting sites can also offer some deals or promotions for certain events, so it’s a good idea to keep your eye on comparison sites to see what’s on offer. On the day, there are many different races to choose from, like the main feature itself, worth £20 million, right the way down to the more modest figure of $400,000 of each leg of the Jockey’s Challenge.


Which Horses are Most Likely to Win?

Here are just some of the horses most likely to win, according to different bookmakers and experts. Of course, these tips are essential for fans, as they might never have witnessed a race in person. After all, seeing a horse’s temperament on the day can make a big difference for predicting its potential in the future.

Mishriff is a strong contender, trained in England by John Gosden. Following second place in the Saudi Derby, this horse managed to win the next three starts, which included group one in the Prix du Jockey-Club as part of the French Derby.

Another one to look out for is Call the Wind who won the Red Sea Turf Handicap and was a group three winner after a first outing in France. This was followed by a runner up spot in groups two and three.

Other horses that had good form since the Saudi Cup include the likes of Midnight Bisou, Tacitus, McKinzie, Chrysoberyl and Magic Wand. They all won group races on their first or second appearance. This alone indicates they will probably do well in the Saudi Cup.


What Might We Expect from the Saudi Cup this Year?

The Saudi Cup is a two day festival of international racing, headlined by the Saudi Cup race itself. This is one of the world’s most valuable races, worth $20 million alone. The race is organised by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, taking place at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

The day card for the Saudi Cup is worth $30.5 million and features some of the highest calibre racehorses around the world, taking part in several turf and dirt races. A full card of racing is to be expected, including the likes of the International Jockeys Challenge, where male and female jockeys go head to head. There’s also the Saudi International Handicap, featuring horses from part two and three racing countries, where $500,000 in winnings is up for grabs.

Saudi Cup

As well as promoting Saudi Arabia at the international level, and encouraging both men and women to take part, the races also encourage investment and tourism in the area.

This year, a range of different races will take place. The Saudi Cup Day Card offers a $30.5 million prize with a variety of dirt and turf races on offer and an increased prize fund from last year’s $29.2 million. The route into the race is by taking part in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup 1800 meter race, offering $3 million in winnings and a place at the starting gate. This takes place at Florida’s Gulfstream Park on 23rd January 2021. There’s also a 1900 meter version of the race on turf with a $1 million handicap up for grabs.

Other races include the $2 million Obaiya Cup for purebred Arabians which is a 2000 meter race. The 1800 meter Champion’s Cup with winnings of $1.96 million on offer, which will be held at Chukyo Racecourse and act as a second qualifying race for the Saudi Cup. Other races that offer winnings of $1.5 million include the Saudi Derby and Grade 3 Capella Stakes held at Nakayama racecourse. The Middle Distance Turf Cup and Jockey Club Local Handicap Double offer winnings of $1 million, while $500,000 is up for grabs for the Saudi International Handicap. $400,000 can be won for each of the four legs of the Jockey’s Challenge.


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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