There are some pretty lucrative races in the UK in terms of prize money. The Grand National is worth a million in total, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup offers up a solid £625,000, with the winner taking home £351,688.

As incredible as those sums of money may sound, they pale in comparison to some of the staggering amounts of cash on offer elsewhere around the world.

So today, we’ll dig through the biggest horse races in the world to reveal the three most valuable and who the most recent winners are.

1. Saudi Cup – $20,000,000

I kid you not when I tell you that the Saudi Cup is worth a monumental $20 MILLION dollars.

It is the most lucrative horse race in the world in terms of prize money and is held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2024, the race take place at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 24th, with the winning connections bagging $10,000,000 for their trouble.

So with so much money on the line, you can imagine that not just anybody can rock up and take a place at the starting line.

Otherwise, the selection for Saudi Cup entries is incredibly exclusive, and taking part generally requires being invited.

How Runners Are Chosen

As already established, the Saudi Cup is not an open-entry race.

Invitations are based on the horses’ performance in other races, their overall track record, and their suitability for the race conditions of the Saudi Cup.

A lot of weight is placed on a horse’s achievements in previous races. Winners of the Pegasus World Cup in the US and the Champions Cup in Japan automatically qualify.

Other potential entries are evaluated based on their official ratings and international rankings.

The selectors then look at the ability of a horse to perform well on the Saudi Cup’s dirt track as well as their current form and fitness levels.

Ultimately, the organisers want to have the absolute best horses in the world running in the race.

In order to achieve this, they need to have a diverse field, with top horses from various racing jurisdictions around the world included.

Sometimes owners and trainers of top racehorses can express their interest in participating, however, the final decision rests with the race organisers.

2023 Saudi Cup Winner

The 2023 winner of the Saudi Cup was the now-retired Panthalassa from Japan.

From his 27 starts, he only won seven during his career, but this was arguably the biggest, during which he earned a total of £11,657,962.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Panthalassa ran his last race in the Japan Cup in November 2023.

He officially retired on January 8th, 2024, during a ceremony held by his owner at Nakayama Racecourse.

But his work isn’t over just yet. He will now stand stud with a service fee of around £15K.

2. Dubai World Cup – $12,000,000

The Dubai World Cup is another prominent event in the world of horse racing.

Known for its lavish prize money and high profile, it is held annually at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

It was first run in 1996 as the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and for a long time held the honour of being the most lucrative horse race in the world.

Then the Saudi Cup came to be, and the Dubai World Cup was knocked down down a peg.

But the $12,000,000 purse is nothing to be sniffed at keeps it securely at the top of the rich list, albeit in second place.

Run over a distance of 2,000 meters (approx 1.25 miles) on a dirt track, 15 runners took part in 2023.

The winner receives $7.2 million of the prize money, with the remainder distributed among the other top finishers.

In 2024, the Dubai World Cup will take place on March 30th.

How Runners Are Chosen

Similar to the Saudi Cup, entries for the Dubai World Cup are primarily by invitation.

Horses are selected based on their performance in other major races, their ratings, and their suitability for the conditions of the Dubai World Cup.

But what makes this race slightly more interesting is that it is part of the Dubai World Cup Night, which is an event in itself.

Sure, the best horses in the world compete, but you also get the added bonus of seeing the likes of Jennifer Lopez or Christina Aguilera belting out their hits for your entertainment.

Incredibly though, tickets for the event cost as little as £20!! Now that’s value for money!

2023 Dubai World Cup Winner

The 2023 winner of the Dubai World Cup was Ushba Tesoro from Japan.

It was his fourth win on the bounce, having already racked up victories in the Canopus Stakes, the Tokyo Daishoten, and the Kawasaki Kinen.

The seven-year-old, trained by Noboru Takagi, is hoping to continue his good form into 2024 with plans to have a run in this year’s Nippon TV Hai as well as the BC Classic in Santa Anita.

3. The Everest – $10,000,000 AUD

Third place on our ‘world’s richest horse races’ list is The Everest from Australia.

Held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, the race was first run in 2017, making it a relatively new addition to the global horse racing calendar.

However, what made it stand out was not just its prize money of $10 million but its unique format.

The shortest of the three races, The Everest, is run over a distance of 1,200 meters on turf. This is a race all about speed and agility.

It is also a weight-for-age race, which means horses carry weights based on their age, with allowances made for fillies and mares competing against males.

Currently, it is the richest turf race in the world, which has been a major draw for top sprinters from Australia and around the world.

How Runners Are Chosen

Unlike the invitation-only process for the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup, the entry process for The Everest is unique.

The race features a ‘slot’ system, where 12 slots are available for purchase.

Each slot is then bought for a hefty price tag, with the slot holder then allowed to negotiate with the owners of various horses to fill said slot.

Slot holders can also lease their spots to other owners or syndicates if they don’t have a suitable horse to run.

The Everest Winner In 2023

The 2023 winner of The Everest was Think About It from Australia.

Trained by Joseph Pride, it was his eighth win from ten turf starts, and he did it reasonably comfortably ahead of second-place finisher I Wish I Win.

So far, no plans have been put in place for 2024, but given that he is still only five years old, the future looks very bright for this thoroughbred.