February 7, 2018 / 7:06 AM / in 8 months

New Saudi horse racing championship to have $17 million in prizes

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has announced a new horse racing championship with prizes totaling more than $17 million that would make it one of the sport’s richest events.

The King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will rival the Kentucky Derby in size and attract competitors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, the government’s General Sports Authority said late on Tuesday, without saying when the first run would be held.

Riyadh is keen to develop its sports industry as part of reforms to diversify the economy beyond oil exports and create a more modern, dynamic society.

The horse championship was a way for the desert kingdom to share its “historic and cultural legacy” with the world, the sports authority said in the statement.

Last year’s Dubai World Cup offered a $10-million prize for its top race, although media reported prizes for the entire event totaled $30 million. The 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in Florida had a $16-million purse.

Reporting by Stephen KalinEditing by Andrew Torchia and Clarence Fernandez

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