Godolphin’s six-year-old entire Benbatl is one of the star entries for the inaugural Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh this Saturday having made a very successful start to his dirt racing career.

Benbatl, another success story for premier sire Dubawi, is a Derby fifth, a Royal Ascot winner and a three-time Group 1 scorer who took the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 last time out in very good style on his first try on the dirt at Meydan.

New Richest Race in the World

Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor are looking for a successor to dual Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow after his retirement and they may just have found the perfect replacement, though Benbatl will have his work cut out in what it now the richest race in the world.

The coveted title of most valuable race on the planet is starting to bounce around a little now after years of the Dubai World Cup holding the honour. But, since a major shrinking in the purse for the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in Florida, the first Saudi Cup can be considered comfortably the most substantial event in the horse racing sphere now in terms of prize money at around £15.4million.

Saudi Cup Contenders

Current odds for the Saudi Cup are headed by last year’s first past the post in the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security, at anywhere between 2/1 and 11/4 as the markets have not begun to settle.

Arguably Jason Servis’ four-year-old has improved since his controversial disqualification at Churchill Downs in May and he has since won the Haskell Invitational, from subsequent Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto, as well as the Cigar Mile to rack up some really important and impressive Grade 1 wins.

He is taken on by Bob Baffert’s four-time Grade 1 dirt winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up McKinzie, available at between 9/4 and 7/2, as well as by the aforementioned Benbatl and Mucho Gusto at 4/1 – 6/1 and 11/2 – 7/1 respectively, in a race that may well be hugely underestimated by those nonplussed about dirt racing.

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Riyadh’s Huge Supporting Card

The Saudi Cup promises to be a very fine race indeed but the support card, which has had precious little marketing in the run-up to the day, is hugely impressive and worth millions of pounds more.

In the 10½-furlong Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup Japanese ace Deirdre is odds-on while in the 1m5f Turf Handicap familiar names Cross Counter, Dee Ex Bee, Prince Of Arran, Way To Paris and Mekong may all be involved.

The Saudi Sprint should feature perennial Breeders’ Cup Sprint challenger Imperial Hint while the one-mile Saudi Derby could see Godolphin’s Final Song go up against Billy Batts, second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November.

The Turf Sprint, which is actually run over a trip closer to seven furlongs, looks absolutely ideal for Charlie Appleby’s Glorious Journey and he is as short as 2/1 to take the win. Now a five-year-old, this son of Dubawi improved plenty last season in finishing second to Limato at Newmarket before winning the Hungerford Stakes. He also took a Group 2 in great style on his return to action at Meydan.

He could be joined by stablemate Mubtasim, a Jersey Stakes third, as well as crack names Sir Dancealot, Suedois, Larchmont Lad and one that shouldn’t be forgotten about since his move from John Gosden’s yard to the States, Legends Of War.

Saudi Cup Day a Precursor to Dubai

Not all of the top flat stars ready to run at this time of year are heading to Saudi Arabia of course, but given that this is their first Saudi Cup night organisers must be pleased with the entries.

This day promises to be an excellent precursor to Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night over in Meydan next month when more massive cheques will be written out, but more importantly there is no logical reason why the form won’t hold up there either making these results crucial for handicappers as well as connections.

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