Horse racing is a rich tradition worldwide, from Tryon, North Carolina to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Australia.
Our local event might be prestigious in its own right, but it is some way off being the most lucrative in the country. Even the one-time richest race here in the US, the Breeder’s Cup, is still shy of those that draw the biggest prize pots.
The Breeder’s Cup is traditionally held in November, with this year’s event scheduled to start on Nov 1, according to Past The Wire. It is a historic event that dates back to 1984, which has seen some amazing runs. One of the most notable, features in a Bwin Sports rundown of the 10 best horse races of all time, is Arazi’s sensational 1991 win at Churchill Downs. Back then the prize money was thought to be incredibly lucrative but nowhere near the figures some of the top races of today can offer. Indeed, another US race, The Pegasus Cup, was also briefly the richest globally, with a $12m prize purse; that has fallen to just $3m in 2021. NBC suggest that was partly due to a shifting focus towards horse safety, with 2% of the new purse going to retired Thoroughbreds, helping prepare them for retraining and rehoming.
With that in mind, where are the richest races in the world held? We run down the top four, starting with the world’s richest turf race.
The Everest – $10m
The prize pot for Australia’s top race is thought to be more than $15m, despite only being in existence for a couple of years. It has overtaken the Melbourne Cup as the premier race in the country and is now as prestigious as they come. It is run over six furlongs, and there are just 12 places available for owners, costing $600,000 each. That’s only a fraction of what they could win; the horse that finishes first nets a cool $6m. In the four years it has been run, jockey Kerrin McEvoy has won it three times, twice on Redzel.
The Dubai World Cup – $12m
The Dubai World Cup has been held annually since 1996 and is held at the Meydan Racecourse, marking the end of the UAE racing season. It is run over 10 furlongs and has horses from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. In March 2021, winner Mystic Guide took the $7.2m top prize, with $4.8m shared between places two through six.
Saudi Cup – $20m
The first Saudi Cup was run in 2020, and it is notable for having the biggest prize of any horse event on the planet, a whopping $20m. It is seen as a key event on the calendar, with our own Pegasus World Cup and the Champions Cup from Japan treated as ‘win, and you’re in’ qualifying events. Held over nine furlongs, it is run on dirt and includes a field of 14 starters. The winning horse earns a staggering $10m, with any placing two through ten taking a share of the other $10m.