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The world’s richest horse races - the top five prize pots in horse racing

Like most sports around the world, prize money in horse racing continues to grow at extraordinary rates. Just like the money in other sports like football and golf continues to rise, prize funds at some of the biggest horse racing meets in the world can be eye-popping.

Some of this money has come from the growth in the popularity of horse racing in countries like Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

In 2020, the Saudi Cup boasted the highest prize money in the world with a bounty of $20 million USD.

With more and more people gambling on horse racing online, opening up international markets and making it much easier for punters to place a bet, it’s perhaps no surprise to see these prize funds continuing to grow.

Let’s take a closer look at five of the richest horse races in the world right now.

Saudi Cup

It seems like the oil-rich country of Saudi Arabia is continuing to up its interest in global sport. They have long been linked with some of the biggest takeovers in world football, pumping millions into some of the best football teams in the world.

Now, they have turned their attention to horse racing.

In 2020, Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal announced that the Saudi Cup would have a $20 million pot and was run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh in February 2020.

The winning horse collected a staggering $10 million, with horses down to 10th place earning a diminishing share of the remaining$10M.

In 2021, the race was forced to be run behind closed doors, however, it was still billed as the world’s most valuable horse race and it is expected to be back in front of crowds once again in 2022.

The Pegasus Cup

Introduced in 2017, the Pegasus Cup started life as the richest horse race on the planet, only to be surpassed by the Saudi Cup in 2020.

Still, the race offers up a staggering prize pool worth $16 million with an entry fee for each of the 12 slots of $1 million.

In 2019, the race organisers changed the structure of the meet, with the prize pot split across two Grade 1 races - the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the new Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational.

The prize fund remains the same - $16 million - with $9 million to the World Cup Invitational and $7 million to the turf race. Entry to each race costs $500,000 with the owner scooping a $1 million bonus if they win both events.

The Dubai World Cup

Held at the Meydan Racecourse, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Dubai World Cup is a Grade 1 race that has been run every year since 1996, marking the end of the UAE racing season.

The prize fund has been boosted to $12M with Mystic Guide, trained by Michael Stidham, the winner of the 2021 edition, taking home an eye-watering $7.2 million.

Run over mile-and-a-quarter (10 furlongs), the race invites four-year-olds or above from the Northern Hemisphere and three-year-olds or above from the Southern Hemisphere.

The Everest

Right here in Australia, we are home to the fourth richest horse race on the planet and the world’s richest race on turf.

Run over six furlongs, The Everest brings the world's top sprinters together at Royal Randwick, Sydney. It's only been in existence for two years but has already surpassed the Melbourne Cup as the country's richest race.

The race has prize money of $14 million and is held in October every year as a feature race of the Sydney Spring Carnival.

The race has an unusual entry fee structure, similar to that of the Pegasus World Cup. Twelve "slots" are sold for $600,000 each, which represents a slot in the starting gate for a then unspecified horse. The slot holder then has the right to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their place in the gate.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic

It’s back over to the USA for the fifth and final entry on our list of the richest horse races in the world.

The Breeders' Cup Classic is a Grade I Weight for Age thoroughbred horse race for 3-year-olds and older run at a distance of 1+1⁄4 miles (2,000 m) on dirt. It is held annually at a different racetrack as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships in late October or early November.

The Classic is considered by many to be the premier thoroughbred horse race of the year in the U.S., although the Kentucky Derby is more widely known among casual racing fans.

The Classic once held the title of the richest horse race in the world, however at $6 million, this prize fund has been dwarfed by the races that feature above it in the list. Still, with $3.3 million going to the winner, it is still a race that captures the imagination of owners and punters alike.

Notable Mentions

There are, of course, some famous horse racing meets around the world that attract huge prize funds. The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris is Europe’s richest horse race with a total prize fund of $5.2 million.

The Japan Cup is another race that attracts the world’s best three-year-olds and above, competing for a prize pool of $5.8 million.

Back here in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is still widely regarded as one of the best horse races in the world and up until the introduction of The Everest, was also the richest in Australia. The prize pot for the Melbourne Cup still sits at around $8 million AUD with the winner collecting a staggering $4.4 million.

In 2021, the Melbourne Cup will be held on Tuesday 2 November and early odds make Incentivise the favourite with Betway Sports at 12.00, closely followed by Dawn Patrol at 13.00 and Realm of Flowers at 17.00.

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