The purse of the Obaiya Cup is increased to $2 million


The purse of the Obaiya Cup is increased to $2 million

Following its inauguration in February of this year, the Saudi Cup meeting, spanning two

days, will continue to hold pride of place in 2021. Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal also reports that major changes are in the pipeline: as three races will have their purses increased, without forgetting the addition of an international race, and the February 19th and 20th date change.

The Obadiah Cup - Arabian Classic is run over 2,000m (10f). Its purse has been increased to $2 million, as opposed to the $1.9 million on offer this year. It therefore retains its position as the world’s richest PA race. The inaugural edition drew a field of 14, with the runners hailing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, France and Britain. Victory went to the top Saudi Arabian horse, Tallaab Al Khalediah (Jalood Al Khalidiah). Despite not having raced for a year, he emerged victorious after going wire to wire. The French-trained Hajres (Dahess) was second.

A $30.5 million pot split over two days. The total prize money at the meeting will amount to $30.5 million compared to the $29.2 million figure of 2020. This news has been received very positively, and particularly at a time when prize money levels are decreasing almost everywhere, as the pandemic causes sponsors to reduce their levels of financial support. The purse of the Saudi Cup, the preserve of English thoroughbreds, remains pegged at $20 million. However, three dirt races have been earmarked for prize money hikes: the Obaiya Cup, the one-mile Saudi Derby (1,600m) (now worth of a total of $1.5 million as opposed to $800,000), and the Jockey Club Local Handicap. The latter race has doubled in value from $500,000 to $1 million.

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia is seeking to build on the success of the inaugural meeting, despite the fact that the purse redistribution issues relating to the Maximum Security (New Year's Day) saga have yet to be resolved. Prince Bandar said: "Granted the changes we are making to the 2021 edition of the Saudi Cup, we want to offer the racing and sporting public the most interesting and intriguing race cards possible – whether they are able to be with us in person, or are watching from home. Regarding the second edition of the meeting, we have the lessons from the first one to fall back on."

Ambitions and means.  The ambition is to ensure that Saudi Arabia becomes a major racing centre and, in the longer term, to facilitate its development as a tourist destination. As was the case in Dubai with the Dubai World Cup.

The grass track, the first of its kind in the Kingdom, was acclaimed by jockeys and trainers alike. The International Jockeys Challenge also gave women the opportunity of race riding for the very first time in the history of Saudi Arabian racing. An opportunity that New Zealand champion Lisa Allpress seized upon fully. As she became the first woman jockey to win a race in the Kingdom. Although Switzerland's Sibylle Vogt was crowned overall champion. France’s Mickaëlle Michel was second... beating Mike Smith no less!

The International Jockey Challenge will take place on Friday (Feb 19th), preceding the Saudi Cup by 24 hours, and 14 of the world's best riders will be on display. The cast will include seven women, two Saudi jockeys and five international stars. The challenge is worth

$100.000, with 15 per cent of this set aside for the jockeys. The Friday card will also stage a new turf race, the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap run over 2,100 metres (10 1/2f).