King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will have $17m in prizes
Jockeys compete at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in the capital Riyadh on November 11, 2016. The modern facility surrounded by greenery on the edge of Riyadh offers respite from the highways and urban sprawl of a city carved out of the desert.
(Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Saudi Arabia has announced a new horse racing championship with prizes totalling more than $17 million 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 late on Tuesday, 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.
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 $10-million prize for its top race, although media reported prizes for the entire event totalled $30 million. The 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in Florida had a $16-million purse.