Horse Racing Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 14, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS
Horse Racing Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 14, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS

If there was ever an incentive to finally get our equine export restrictions lifted, this is it. Saudi Arabia has announced it will host a race in February 2020 where the prize for the winning horse will be $10m.

The $20m Saudi Cup will become the world’s richest race when it is run at King Abdulaziz racetrack in Riyadh on February 29 2020.

A further incentive is that horses who finish in the first 10 will share another $10 among them. The race, to be run on dirt over 1,800m, will have a maximum field of 14 runners. It is open to northern hemisphere four-year-olds and upwards and southern hemisphere three-year-olds and upwards and will be run at weight-for-age.

The new date on the racing calendar is sure to put Dubai’s nose out of joint as, until now its World Cup race, due to be held four weeks after the Riyadh event, has always been the richest dirt race.

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As far as turf races are concerned, the richest is the Everest in Australia ($9.8m), the Japan Cup ($6m) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris ($5.6m).

A long journey via Mauritius is the only export route for SA horses wanting to compete overseas, but this could change with government intervention.

Adrian Todd, MD of SAEHP (SA Equine Health & Protocols), is doing his utmost to get countries to reinstate direct trade. He said recently: “What we need from government is a final political push to get the EU to come here. I believe we are in a position to pass an EU audit.”

The richest race at today’s Turffontein meeting is the eighth which carries a gross purse of R112,000, including R70,000 for the winner. It looks a competitive seven-runner handicap in which the principals may be Magic School, Dive Captain and Muzi Yeni’s mount, Westwing Belter.

Magic School, a daughter of Philanthropist, owned and bred by Drakenstein Stud, ran out an easy winner in a recent maiden race and has plenty of scope for improvement. The filly will be 2.5kg better off with Dive Captain compared to their clash at Tuesday’s track in May.

Yeni rode Westwing Belter into second place last time out and it is in his favour that his mount is a year older than both Magic School and Dive Captain.

Five-time champion trainer Geoff Woodruff has prospects of landing a double at Tuesday’s meeting with Final Occasion (third race) and Blanco in the first leg of the jackpot.

Final Occasion, a R450,000 son of Silvano, hinted that a first success was close with a good recent effort over 2,000m and the four-year-old should appreciate the step up to 2,400m. His main danger will be Joe Soma’s runner Left Hook and there is nothing to choose between the two judged on their meeting at the end of July.

Woodruff’s Var gelding Blanco missed his planned Vaal engagement when his race was cancelled due to unsafe ground, but he looks the one they have all got to beat in Tuesday’s fifth race.

The apprentice claim of young Tejash Juglall will reduce Blanco’s weight to 56kg and he can beat home Rock Manor and another Joe Soma runner, Causeway Cruiser.


1st Race: (2) Duke Of Swing (1) Kellan’s Comet (4) Amazing Tune (7) Grey Power

2nd Race: (3) Captain’s Reward (2) Boss Babe (4) Comaneci (6) The Fifth Wave

3rd Race: (1) Final Occasion (2) Left Hook (5) Voodoo (4) Smart Deal

4th Race: (1) Doubled Over (2) Little Sparrow (5) Kisumu (7) Cotopaxi

5th Race: (2) Blanco (5) Rock Manor (4) Causeway Cruiser (6) Semper Fi

6th Race: (1) Bid Before Sunset (4) Walnut Dash (7) Just Kidding (6) Kirkconnel Lass

7th Race: (3) Prince Jordan (2) Lighthearted (4) Master Boulder (8) Sweet Trial

8th Race: (6) Magic School (1) Westwing Belter (2) Dive Captain (5) Soul Of Wit

9th Race: (8) Goa (3) Now And Forever (10) Snow In Seattle (5) Chainsaw