We all know that horse racing is a universal sport, loved all around the world. But how do you make a relatively new race stand out in the crowd?

The simple answer is that you make the most valuable race on the planet and offer a staggering $20,000,000 prize purse.

And in the case of the Saudi Cup, it worked. Held in Riyadh at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse, the Saudi Cup 2024 is due to be held on February 24th.

The winning connections will walk away with $10,000,000, and with that kind of money on the line, it’s all to play for.

So who is in the running this year, and which race horses have the best chance of winning?

Let’s take a look at the likely field, according to The Saudi Cup website, and try to whittle down the potential runners to predict a winner.

Saudi Cup 2024 Likely Runners

Plenty of bookmakers are offering odds on the Saudi Cup 2024 so check out the likes of ggbet if you fancy a flutter on this year’s race.

The table below shows the horses that look most likely to run on the day, but last-minute changes do happen, so check the declared runners before you make any bets.

Horse Name (Country) Jockey Country
White Abarrio (USA) Richard Dutrow United States
Derma Sotogake (JPN) Hidetaka Otonashi Japan
Lemon Pop (USA) Hiroyasu Tanaka Japan
National Treasure (USA) Bob Baffert United States
Ushba Tesoro (JPN) Noburu Takagi Japan
Saudi Crown (USA) Brad Cox United States
Isolate (USA) Doug Watson United Arab Emirates
Senor Buscador (USA) Todd Fincher United States
Defunded (USA) Abdulaziz K Mishref Saudi Arabia
Carmel Road (USA) Abdullah Albadah Saudi Arabia
Crown Pride Koichi Shintani Japan
Hoist the Gold (USA) Dallas Stewart United States
Scotland Yard (USA) Mutaeb Almulawah Saudi Arabia
Meisho Hario (JPN) Inao Okada Japan
Power In Numbers (USA) Ahmed Mohamoud Saudi Arabia

How Saudi Cup Runners Are Chosen

When there’s $20,000,000 to be one in a single race, it is understandable that getting an official entry is a lengthy and exclusive process.

In fact, for races like the Saudi Cup, it is invitation only as race organisers aim to pit the best thoroughbreds, in the world, against each other.

There are some guaranteed entries, and they are the winners of the Pegasus World Cup in the US and the Champions Cup in Japan, who automatically qualify.

So for this race that includes National Treasure (Pegasus winner) and Lemon Pop (Champions Cup winner).

Of course, other big winners also get short-listed and are almost certain to race. For example, White Abbario won the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita in November, so he was always going to be included as well.

So with the best horses set to do battle, just which of them has what it takes to go the distance in Riyadh?

Saudi Cup 2024 Predictions & Tips

White Abbario is the clear race favourite with the bookies, with odds as low as 5/2 with most of them.

In the last 12 months, he has really started to come into his own, raking up wins at Gulfstream Park and in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga before the big win in the Breeders Cup.

With earnings surpassing the £4 million mark, it’s easy to see why this on-form horse is priced the way he is.

The distance won’t pose a problem but what about the rest of the field?

Next up in the odds is Derma Sotogake from Japan. The Japanese have had a major resurgence of late with Equinox winning the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Japan Cup in 2023.

Even last year’s winner of the Saudi Cup was the now-retired Japan runner Panthalassa. So can Derma Sotogake add his name to the list?

He was second to White Abbario in the Breeders Cup by a length. That was his best result since winning at Meydan in March 2023 in the Group 2 UAE Derby.

His Group 1 winners are thin on the ground, as is his experience at this level.

Lemon Pop, also Japanese and owned by Godolphin, looks to be the sort that could take this race. Other than one blip in the UAE Derby last year, his form is remarkably consistent.

He goes into this race as the Champions Cup winner as well as the February Stakes winner but he will have one obstacle to overcome. That is the distance.

Lemon Pop is at his best at 7f, and while that isn’t too far off the distance of the Saudi Cup, the speed and stamina required at this level is unparalleled.

Does he have enough in the tank to best White Abarrio? Time will tell.

Prediction

Looking outside of the top three in the betting, I would have to plump for Ushba Tesoro. Last year’s Dubai World Cup winner is a seasoned 1m2f runner and winner.

Yes, he was well beaten in the Breeders Cup, and he was off the pace. But that was a rare misstep from the Tokyo Daishoten winner, who goes into this race a little in the shadow of White Abbario.

On his day, Ushba Tesoro is a stellar thoroughbred whose form can’t be overlooked. He is also five from six in Stakes starts and has also earned over £8 million in prize money.

With odds as good as 7/1 he could be the dark horse in the Saudi Cup 2024.