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The Saudi Cup: Inside the world’s most lucrative horse racing event, from the £16million top winner’s prize, lavish restaurants and why alcohol and gambling isn’t allowed


The Saudi Cup is horse racing’s most lavish and expensive event in the world. 

The first edition of the race was held in 2020 and since then the prize money, extravagance and popularity of the event has continued to grow to unimaginable heights.

The Saudi Cup brings the world’s finest thoroughbreds and jockeys to one place as they battle it out on King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh for the penultimate horse racing prize of $20milion (£16m).

The Saudi Cup weekend is much more than horse racing however, it is considered ‘Riyadh’s social event of the year and a jewel in the crown of international racing’.

Mail Sport takes a look at why it is one of the most talked about horse racing events for stuff happening on and off the track. 

The world's finest thoroughbreds and jockeys will descend on on King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh this weekend

The world’s finest thoroughbreds and jockeys will descend on on King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh this weekend 

The Saudi Cup is considered much more than a horse racing event, it is recognised as one of Riyadh's social events of the year

The Saudi Cup is considered much more than a horse racing event, it is recognised as one of Riyadh’s social events of the year

The top prize for the grade one race stands at a whopping $20million

The top prize for the grade one race stands at a whopping $20million

Saudi Cup prize money 

The total prize money amounts to roughly $37.6million (£30m), with the top prize of the night the Saudi Cup itself, where the prize pot stands at a whopping £20m (£15m). 

Other bigger money races of the weekend include the Group 1 $1.5m Ministry of Culture Al Mneefah Cup on Saturday and the $2m Howden Neom Turf Cup; the $2.5M Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap and the $1.5m Boutique Group Saudi Derby on Sunday. 

Off the track  – What is going on?

As mentioned before, this is treated as much more than a horse race – it’s considered a spectacle, an event to show of Saudi style, sophistication and culture.

At the end of night two, there is even an after-racing concert.

The Saudi Cup caps off their weekend with a concert on the last night

The Saudi Cup caps off their weekend with a concert on the last night 

100 brands of fashion on display 

What screams wealth and style more than fashion and designer clothes and perfumes?

During the two-day event, over 100 designers and brands put on exhibitions of their work, which includes ready to wear clothing, jewelry, bags, footwear and perfumes, all of which may come at a hefty price.

At the Saudi Cup it’s encouraged that you shop till you drop.  

There are over 100 brands of designers and brands on display for event goers to buy expensive bags, clothes, jewelry and much more

There are over 100 brands of designers and brands on display for event goers to buy expensive bags, clothes, jewelry and much more 

Art and Culture exhibitions 

Another display of wealth, the richness of their culture and the lavish life they live, the Saudi Cup has innovative art experiences available for event goers as well as a culture exhibition Al Berdakh. 

Al Berdakh offers handcrafts, live Saudi music experience and uses virtual reality to transport visitors into a Saudi culture phenomenal. 

The Srooj is also another artistic workshop, with the main attraction in this area being the live painting. 

Art exhibitions are also available for viewing during your time at the event

Art exhibitions are also available for viewing during your time at the event 

If you grow tired of watching the racing, you can immerse yourself in Saudi Culture at Al Berdakh

If you grow tired of watching the racing, you can immerse yourself in Saudi Culture at Al Berdakh

Fine dining and exclusive restaurants 

At the Saudi Cup, the meaning of fine dining reaches a whole new level. With over six restaurants and spots to sit down and grab a bite to eat, the array of cuisine on display is quite remarkable and unfathomable. 

For people with general admission tickets, you can enjoy the abundant buffet display available at the Grandstand Executive Restaurant as well as the Irth restaurant.

Purchasing a pricier ticket will open up your food options even more so.

If you go down the private suite route, you are promised complete exclusivity with your own personal array of food available in the suite.

The owner’s lounge one step up once again is a hidden third floor gem in the grandstand offering the most varied menu, available to only the most exclusive people on Saudi Cup day. 

Other restaurants on site are the Al Thuraya Restaurant and the Panorama restaurant both of which require bookings.

Entry to the Al Thuraya and Panorama restaurant will set you back 1,600SAR (£336).

The Saudi Cup has a host of restaurants available to dine at and enjoy a rich array of cuisine

The Saudi Cup has a host of restaurants available to dine at and enjoy a rich array of cuisine

Some restaurants, however, are exclusive, you can buy your way into some but it comes with a hefty price

Some restaurants, however, are exclusive, you can buy your way into some but it comes with a hefty price 

Is alcohol and gambling allowed at the Saudi Cup?

For many attending horse races in the UK, much of the appeal will be to place bets and consume alcohol.

However, none of this will happen at the Saudi Cup.

Drinking alcohol and placing bets is illegal in Saudi countries and just because this is an event that attracts a worldwide audience, the rules will be no different. 

How much are Saudi Cup Tickets?

  • General admission: 199SAR (£42) ($53)
  • The Club room 2000SAR (£420) ($533)
  • Private suite: 200,000SAR (£42,000) ($53,326)



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