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Making it rein: Saudi kingdom invests millions in horse meet

Date of publication: 7 February, 2018

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Saudi Arabia has announced it will launch a horse racing meet that will rival some of the biggest championships.

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a new horse racing championship that will rival both the Dubai World Cup and the Kentucky Derby in prize earnings, Reuters reported.

The King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will dole out more than $17 million in prizes, making it a likely competitor with other major horse racing events in the US, the UK and Japan, the General Sports Authority said.

The new championship will be a new way for Saudi Arabia to share its "historic and cultural legacy", the sports body added.

Horses have been central to Saudi Arabia for centuries, and the famed Arabian breed dates back millennia in land that now makes up the desert kingdom. The horses of wealthy Saudis are also major players at the racing events worldwide, earning top prizes.

Gambling, a central element of horse racing events, is outlawed in the kingdom.

The championship is also hoped to further develop Saudi Arabia's domestic sports industry, with leaders keen to explore myriad avenues to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy beyond oil.

Last year's Dubai World Cup had $30 million in prize dollars. The 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in Florida offered $16 million in prizes.

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