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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Saudi Arabia to launch horse racing championship to rival the world's richest events

The King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will be a way for the kingdom to share its "historic and cultural legacy"

A major horse racing event will be held in Saudi Arabia, although a date for the King Abdulaziz Horse Championship has not yet been confirmed. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
A major horse racing event will be held in Saudi Arabia, although a date for the King Abdulaziz Horse Championship has not yet been confirmed. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has announced a new horse racing championship with prizes totalling more than $17 million (Dh62.4m) that would make it one of the sport's richest events.

The King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will rival the Kentucky Derby in size and attract competitors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, the government's General Sports Authority said, without saying when the first run would be held.

Riyadh is keen to develop its sports industry as part of reforms to diversify the economy beyond oil exports and create a more modern, dynamic society.

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The horse championship was a way for the desert kingdom to share its "historic and cultural legacy" with the world, the sports authority said in the statement.

Last year's Dubai World Cup offered a $10m prize for its top race, although media reported prizes for the entire event totalled $30m. The 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in Florida had a $16m purse.

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