66 International Runners Line Up for Saudi Cup Meeting

Mucho Gusto, the 2020 Pegasus winner, has been entered in the $20-million Saudi Cup | Lauren King/Coglianese

The inaugural $29.2-million Saudi Cup card at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Feb. 29 drew 66 runners from overseas, including 21 Group/Grade 1 winners, HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, announced on Wednesday. The full list of runners for the eight-race Saturday card have won a combined 32 top-level races.

Some of the big names in the $20-million Saudi Cup include:  recent GI Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) who squares off with Bob Baffert stablemate and MGISW McKinzie (Street Sense) and Jason Servis trainee and MGISW Maximum Security (New Year's Day). Other possibles for the signature race are the mares Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) for Steve Asmussen and Aidan O'Brien's Magic Wand (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). MG1SW Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) also contests the 1800-metre event for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, as do Japanese stars Chrysoberyl (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}) and Gold Dream (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}).

The highlight of the 2100-metre $1-million Neom Turf Cup is MG1SW Deirdre (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}), who won the 2019 G1 Nassau S. in England for Mitsuru Hashida, while American speedballs Imperial Hint (Imperialism) and Shancelot (Shanghai Bobby) face each other in the $1.5-million Saudia Sprint over 1200 metres on the main track. In the $2.5-million Longines Turf H., 2018 G1 Melbourne Cup victor Cross Counter (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) lines up versus French Group 1 winner Call The Wind (GB) (Frankel {GB}).

“The establishment of the Saudi Cup is a great moment in the history of horseracing in Saudi Arabia and I am gratified that the global racing community has embraced our new concept with such enthusiasm,” said Prince Bandar. “I look forward to welcoming some of the world's most highly decorated horsemen and women to Riyadh and am thrilled that so many champion international horses will be taking part on Saturday Feb.29.”

Final fields will be completed with the addition of two local runners after the Feb. 8 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques raceday. There were also two Platinum Partners announced for the Saudi Cup-Longines and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA).

Tom Ryan, Director of Strategy and International Racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said, “Since the launch of the Saudi Cup less than seven months ago, the level of support and assistance we have received from our friends in the world of horse racing has been quite overwhelming, and I could not be happier with the quality of the horses set to contest our big races in just over three weeks' time. Quality is spread throughout the card and we are looking forward to watching these superstars of global racing take to the track on Feb. 29.”

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