Gosden and Dettori eye $27 million Saudi Cup fixture as undercard is announced

Almost $7 million in prize-money will be up for grabs on the undercard at the inaugural running of the world’s richest race, the $20m Saudi Cup, after the five supporting contests were unveiled in London on Monday.

Three of the supporting races will be run on the new turf track at the course, which will be used for the first time, while the other two will take place on the highly-acclaimed dirt circuit.

John Gosden and Frankie Dettori were among those to lavish praise on the lucrative new raceday, which is set to be staged at King Abdulaziz racetrack in Riyadh on February 29 next year.

Gosden said: "These races will offer terrific targets for a range of horses, from sprinters to stayers. The mile race for three-year-olds is worth a good deal more than the early Classics. I'm already thinking about which horses I could take."

Dettori has been a frequent visitor to the course in the past and added: "The quality of the dirt track is second to none. I’ve ridden European horses on it, they take to it really well, and the new turf track will give the day even more appeal.

"The welcome awaiting any jockey competing in the Kingdom is exceptional as the hospitality of the Saudi racing fraternity is amazing and there is a real passion for the sport. I hope I will be there on the starting line come February."

The revealed turf races include a 1m7f staying handicap worth $2.5m, while a middle-distance contest over 1m2½f and a 6½f sprint, both for older horses, offer $1m in prize-money.

On the dirt there will be a 6f sprint worth $1.5m and a $800,000 mile contest which is restricted to three-year-olds.

The launch at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly was presided over by HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, and he said: “We believe the new races will help make the Saudi Cup a wonderful sporting occasion.

“We will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races and I'm especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time. Things are really beginning to take shape.”