Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 February 2020

'Fantastic' list of entries for the inaugural $29.2m Saudi Cup meeting

Cream of horse racing world target spot in $20m main race, including UAE entries Gronkowski, Ghaiyyath and North America

Godolphin's Ghaiyyath, pictured winning at Baden-Baden racecourse last September, is one of the entries for the Saudi Cup on February 29. Shutterstock
Godolphin's Ghaiyyath, pictured winning at Baden-Baden racecourse last September, is one of the entries for the Saudi Cup on February 29. Shutterstock

The inaugural $29.2m (Dh77.8m) Saudi Cup race meeting has attracted an impressive entry across the eight races, including 32 Group or Grade One winners in the big race alone.

Slated at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh for February 29, the Saudi Cup kicks off a new era in Saudi Arabian horse racing, highlighted by the creation of the first turf track in the country’s history.

The Saudi Cup with a $20m prize purse, assumes the mantle of the world’s richest race, has attracted more than 140 nominations, representing four continents, 16 countries and more than 60 trainers around the globe.

Entries in the main race over the 1,800-metre dirt surface feature multiple Grade One-winning mare Midnight Bisou trained by Steve Asmussen, Jason Servis’ Grade One Cigar Mile winner and four-time Grade One winner, Maximum Security and the Bob Baffert’s Breeder’s Cup Classic runner up McKinzie, all from the USA.

There are a host of entries from the UAE that include the Dubai World Cup runner up Gronkowski trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby’s Ghaiyyath, the Group One Grosser Preis von Baden winner in Germany, and Satish Seemar’s North America.

The first turf races ever to be held in Saudi Arabia have also received an impressive list of entries.

Among the entries are Godolphin’s Emirati trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, winner of the Group Two Singspiel Stakes at the Dubai World Cup Carnival’s meeting last Thursday at Meydan, in the 2,100m $2.5million Neom Turf Cup.

Others of note are; Aidan O’Brien’s Magic Wand, who ended an Australian campaign with victory in the Group One Mackinnon Stakes in November, and stable companion and Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck.

Also holding an entry is the Newmarket-based Japanese trainer Mitsuru Hashida’s Goodwood Nassau Stakes winner Diedre.

The Red Sea Turf Handicap run over 3,000m boasts entries that include Appleby’s 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter, and O’Brien’s multiple Group One winning Kew Gardens and the globetrotting Prince of Arran.

Tom Ryan, director of Strategy and International Racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia was thrilled by the strong levels of global interest in the race day.

“The response to the Saudi Cup from the international racing community has been fantastic,” he said.

“We couldn’t be happier with the entries that we’ve received and we are now fully focused on putting on a spectacular first Saudi Cup race day to live up to the calibre of these entries.”

Entries will be whittled down to final fields, based on ratings allocated by former BHA senior handicapper, Phil Smith.

Newmarket Racecourse Clerk of the Course, Michael Prosser has also joined the Saudi Cup team for the event as they build towards the February 29 race day gathers pace.

Updated: January 15, 2020 08:18 AM

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