The Saudi Cup 2024 meeting has attracted 1162 entries with horses from 15 countries seeking glory at the world’s most valuable race meeting held in Riyadh on February 23 and 24.
Among the hopefuls for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia-organised race weekend are 41 Group or Grade 1 winners with strong support from the powerhouses of the USA with 123 horses listed and Japan - the country that produced the 2023 winner, Panthalassa - which has 110 entries.
This year’s event at King Abdulaziz Racecourse will include a new prize fund worth an additional $2.25m compared to the 2023 renewal. The increase reflects the upgrades of the 2,100m Neom Turf Cup and the 1351 Turf Sprint to international Group 2, while the 2100m Al Mneefah Cup for Purebred Arabians, another turf race, will also run as a Group 1 for the first time.
Amongst the highlights are 2023 Whitney and Breeders Cup Classic winner, White Abarrio (USA) and ultra tough Breeders Cup Classic second Derma Sotagake (JPN), Preakness winner National Treasure (USA) and Malibu Stakes winner Speed Boat Beach (USA).
Group 1 stars, Luxembourg (IRE), Warm Heart (IRE), Mawj (IRE), Art Power (IRE), Simca Mille (IRE) and Double Major (IRE) feature among the high profile European entries.
The reigning 2023 Red Sea Turf Handicap and 1351 Turf Sprint winners Silver Sonic (JPN) and Bathrat Leon (JPN) have been entered for a shot at defending their titles and fan favourite, Casa Creed (USA) holds an entry that could see him take to the King Abdulaziz turf for a third consecutive year, having finished second in the 1351 Turf Sprint in 2022 and 2023
From Japan the 2023 Dubai World Cup winner, Ushba Tesoro (JPN) holds an entry as well as The Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, Sibelius (USA).
Top Japanese dirt horse and Champions Cup winner, Lemon Pop (USA) holds his place in the Saudi Cup entries after winning the qualifier in Chukyo last month.
The Bahrain international Trophy winner, Spirit Dancer (GB) who gained an automatic place in the Neom Turf Cup, also features among the entries.
From the domestic ranks, the former USA trained Defunded (USA) now representing KSA and 2023 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques winner, Scotland Yard (USA) have been entered in the Saudi Cup as well as the King Abdullah Stable’s exciting three-year-old Taybah Fail (KSA) who could line up in the Saudi Derby.
The Saudi Cup’s two Arabian races, the Obaiya Arabian Classic on the Saturday and the Al Mneefah Cup on the Friday card are now, for the first time, both Group 1PA races. As befits their status and thanks to prize money of $2m and $1.5m respectively, some of the world’s best Arabians have been entered.
They include past winners Tilal Al Khalediah (KSA) (Obaiya), Asfan Al Khalediah (KSA) (Al Mneefah) and First Classs (USA) (Al Mneefah). Also among the entries are previously placed horses such as Hamdani Al Khalediah (KSA) (Obaiya), Sultana (GB) (Al Mneefah), Bint Ghaliat Al Khalediah (KSA) (Al Mneefah), Dergham Athbah (UAE) (Al Mneefah) and Soko (FR) (Al Mneefah).
Other eye-catching entries include up-and-coming young black type winners, Arjad Athbah (GB), Ghadah (FR), Mutbahy Athbah (FR) and Najeeb Al Zaman (FR) as well as some exciting local four-year-olds, Nadem Al Molwk Al Khalediah (KSA) and Vizhir (FR).
HRH Prince Bandar Bin Khaled Alfaisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia said:
“Thank you to all the owners and trainers who made entries to this year’s Saudi Cup meeting. We are looking forward to hosting all our runners and their connections in February and to the privilege of watching these supreme athletes perform at King Abdulaziz Racecourse and sharing that experience with the world.
It is great to see that so many of the world’s highest profile horses hold an entry to our marquee event, which now benefits from race upgrades and increased prize money.
The Saudi Cup is one of the most important sporting and social occasions in The Kingdom, providing a place for us to come together once a year as a global community to celebrate these magnificent animals at an event that is uniquely Saudi Arabian. Our racecard provides interest and excitement across the two days with the International Jockeys Challenge featuring 14 of the top men and women from around the world as well as a race for Part II and Part III racing nations. All this is highlighted of course by The Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race and the highlight of our racing year.
We at the JCSA are pleased to utilise The Saudi Cup as a vehicle for increased awareness of and participation in horseracing at all levels throughout Saudi society, enriching communities through involvement in sport both in terms of taking part and administration. In addition, the JCSA is honoured to be part of the international racing family, with the positive benefits of this race weekend touching both a domestic and international audience.
It is always a pleasure to meet so many people from all walks of life and corners of the globe who are brought together by one shared passion – horseracing. We look forward to welcoming all our runners and connections and wish everyone the very best in preparation.”