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THE WORLD'S MOST VALUABLE HORSE RACE - The Saudi Cup is a new race for thoroughbreds aged four and up, to be run at weight-for-age terms over 1800m (9f), worth US$20m with a prize of US$10m to the winner.
1800m (9f) on dirt | Total race value: $20,000,000
FEB 21 - A group of 12 American racehorses, with combined prize money earnings of more than USD$17.5m, got their first look at Riyadh's King Abdulaziz Racecourse today as they touched down ahead of the $29.2m Saudi Cup day.
HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, who was at King Khalid International Airport to see the horses off the Saudia Cargo plane said: "I don't think it would be overstepping the mark to say that these 12 horses arriving in Saudi Arabia today is the single most significant event in the history of flat racing in Saudi Arabia.
"This sport has made great strides over the last six months and to have horses of this caliber arrive on Saudi soil marks the beginning of a new era for us. We are fully focused on providing the best possible event on Saudi Cup weekend and can't wait to see these horses in action."
First off the lorry at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse Quarantine Facility was the Jason Servis-trained four-time Grade 1 winner and $20m Saudi Cup contender, Maximum Security. He was followed by Billy Batts, trained by Peter Miller who will run in the Samba Saudi Derby and sprint star, Legends of War who is prepared by Doug O'Neill.
Miller's second two runners, Captain Scotty who goes in the Saudia Sprint and Ghoul also touched down safely while highly-anticipated Saudi Cup runners, Mucho Gusto and McKinzie, both trained by Bob Baffert and the striking grey, Tacitus trained by William Mott were also safely settled into their stables.
The popular mare, Midnight Bisou, who will take on the boys in the Saudi Cup and is trained by Steve Asmussen had a good look around as she came off the lorry along with stablemate and Samba Saudi Derby contender, Rowdy Yates and Saudi Sprint runner, Engage.
Sprinter Imperial Hint was taken of the horse box by trainer, Luis Carvajal.
Garrett Servis, son of trainer Jason who received Saudi Cup favourite Maximum Security said: "He travelled well. I was in touch with the grooms on the flight so I had regular updates. He drank half his water and ate half his feed. We will be out for a hand walk after he gets settled."
All the US horses who landed in Riyadh today will be required to spend 48 hours inside the quarantine facility begore they can head to the main track
FEB 5 - The final places in the starting gates of the world's richest horserace, the USD $20m Saudi Cup, will be drawn from local training ranks and decided this Saturday, following the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques race-day at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.
The Saturday of Saudi Cup race weekend, which takes place on February 29 and carries a prize purse of $29.2m, has attracted the best horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world.
Held under the patronage of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Cup is the first international race weekend to be staged in Saudi Arabia, and seeks to reflect the primary themes of a vibrant society, thriving economy and a progressive nation set out in the Government-led Vision 2030.
Each of the eight international races on Saudi Cup day will feature two local horses. US-trained track star, Mucho Gusto, who is prepared by American Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert and owned by Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdulaziz has already earned a spot as an international runner in the 1800m Saudi Cup starting lineup, thanks to his recent victory in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in Florida.
Another position in the all-star starting gate has been kept open for the highest-rated winner of one of the two Group 1 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques races (King's Cup) held on Saturday February 8 and the final place will be selected via Saudi Cup Committee.
The local horses will join a stellar lineup which already includes the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Benbatl, Baffert's McKinzie, Midnight Bisou trained by Steve Asmussen, Maximum Security trained by Jason Servis and Japan's Chrisoberyl and Gold Dream trained by Hidetaka Otonashi and Osamu Hirata respectively.
Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, who was joined at the press conference by fellow board member Prince Abdullah bin Khalid Bin Sultan, said: "The Saudi Cup provides a stage upon which we are delighted to welcome the racing world to come and compete, but it is equally important for us to create an event which belongs to the people of Saudi Arabia.
"King Abdulaziz Racecourse has hosted racing for many years and we have an active and healthy industry with full fields and plenty of support from owners and trainers. We hope that the upcoming International Jockeys' Challenge and Saudi Cup day, which will play out in front of the world's racing media, will serve to inspire more people to get involved at a local level.
"As we progress, we seek to align ourselves with international best practice in order to grow this sport, promoting both international and domestic racing and, alongside the many other high profile events now being staged in Saudi, position this country as a venue for large-scale sporting occasions."
The Saudi Cup weekend is supported by a prestigious collection of Platinum Partners that share the vision of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. The first two of these to be announced is the country's National Carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) and Swiss watchmaker, Longines.
Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is one of Saudi Arabia's biggest brands and Platinum Partner and Official Airline of the Saudi Cup and Title Sponsor of the Saudia Sprint, part of the Saudi Cup card.
Vice President of Corporate Communications of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), Mr. Fahad Bahdailah, said: "Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is pleased to be supporting the highly-anticipated Saudi Cup, and welcomes guests from all around the world traveling to Saudi Arabia to participate and take in the festivities of the Saudi Cup."
Longines, which has signed on as title sponsor of the highly anticipated Longines Turf Handicap, is also the official watch and timekeeper of the Saudi Cup.
Matthieu Baumgartner, Vice President Marketing of Longines said: "We are especially proud to start a new collaboration with the Saudi Cup as Official Partner, Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the event.
"This partnership reinforces our long-lasting passion for horse racing, which dates back more than 140 years. We are looking forward to being part of the first edition of this thrilling sports event."
Adel Al Mazroa, General Manager of the Equestrian Club of Riyadh which runs King Abdulaziz Racecourse said: "The gaze of global racing will turn to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Cup with many of the world's best horses, trainers and jockeys competing here in Riyadh on a unique occasion in Saudi's history.
"However, the importance of local participation in the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup is also crucial. Without the support of local owners, trainers and all their supporting staff, it would be impossible to hold an event of this magnitude. We are truly excited to know that we will have locally-trained horses competing against the world's best in the Saudi Cup. This will give the home crowd plenty of reasons to cheer on the big day."
Thanking the Saudi Cup's Platinum Partners, Mr Al Mazroa added: "We are absolutely delighted to have attracted the support of renowned international brands such as Longines and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), who view this event as we do; as a truly world class showpiece and the catalyst for even greater things to come."
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