Horse Racing

Horses can run shortly after birth, and, if trained for flat racing, can begin racing as early as two years old.

November 06, 2020

Raising Racehorses: The Costs and Rewards

The man hours, devotion and costs required to raise racehorses are phenomenal. To develop a horse into a winner of races takes years of work behind the scenes, with costs covering a whole spectrum of requirements – from purchasing a horse or acquiring stud services, to feeding and stabling, through to training and medical care. Once a horse is ready to race, a host of additional requirements and costs materialise, including the need for a jockey, international transportation, passports, insurance, race fees, and so on.

Read on to discover the costs associated with raising a racehorse, why the benefits far outweigh the costs, and how Qatar is capitalising on the market.

The Costs

To raise a racehorse from birth to racing form requires a host of people. These include the breeder, the owner and the trainer. Supporting them are stable hands, grooms, blacksmiths, vets, suppliers, transporters, farmland managers and workers, and jockeys. It generally takes at least two years to take a foal from birth to their first races. Raising racehorses is neither a simple affair or an inexpensive one.

To buy a racehorse can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 or more depending on its age, pedigree and potential. The average price for a yearling (between 1 and 2 years old) is reported to be $65,000. Using a stud to obtain a foal costs anything from $1,000 to $500,000, though the average fee is probably around $4000 - $5000.

Once bought, the horse requires training and care. Figures of between $40,000 and $50,000 a year are quoted for keeping a horse in training. This price includes a range of costs, such as the services of a trainer, grooms and assistants, a farrier, a veterinarian, a dentist, a chiropractor, etc.; as well as the premises and facilities, feeding and bedding, riding and racing equipment, medications, and administration and taxes.

Also, there are other costs to be considered:

  • Insurance is often taken to around 5% of the value of the horse. So, if a horse is worth $100,000, the annual premium will be $5,000. If a horse is worth $1,000,000, the cost of insurance soars to $50,000.
  • Transport to the racecourse can cost as little as $2 per mile nationally and between $8000 and $30,000 internationally (depending on the number of horses).
  • Race entrance fees for each race. This depends on the purse for the race. Major international races with very large purses can charge a $50,000 entrance fee. Races with smaller purses charge, on average, $3,000.
  • Jockey’s mounting fee for each race can be as little as $50 -$150 for each race, but if the jockey is successful and the stakes are high, the fee can be much higher.
  • Trainers and jockeys get a commission - a bonus, of around 10%, taken out of the winning purse.

Image: Copyright Living2022

The Rewards

Huge amounts of money are bet on horse racing every year in some parts of the world. Prize money at a major event can top $6 million and does reach $12 million. The American Thoroughbred, Arrogate won around $17,400,000 during his racing career; amongst others, he won the Dubai World Cup and the Pegasus World Cup.

Horse racing meetings are held around the World and huge amounts of money can be won. Some of the richest meetings include:

  • The new (2020) Saudi Cup at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack offers a $20,000,000 prize, with $10,000,000 going to the winner.
  • The Pegasus World Cup, held at the Gulfstream Park in Florida, offers prize money of $16,000,000. The winner in 2018, Gun Runner, collected $7,000,000.
  • The Dubai World Cup has a prize fund of $12,000,000 with the winner taking home some $7,200,000.
  • The British Champions Day at Ascot is the UK’s richest race day with a prize pot of $6,000,000.
  • The richest race run on turf is the Everest, which is held in Sydney, Australia. This has a prize pot of $10,000,000 (set to rise in 2020).
  • Held in various locations in the USA, the Breeder’s Cup Classic for 3-year-old thoroughbreds has a prize pot of $6,000,000.
  • After a $145 million investment in the racecourse, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe held at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse is Europe’s richest race meeting. Prize money here is $5,600,000, with the winner earning $3,200.00.
  • Japan is one of the most active countries in horse racing, so it is not surprising that the Japan Cup is held every year in the capital’s Tokyo Racecourse. It boasts a prize pot of $5,800,000. Since 2008, most of the prize money has gone to homegrown talent.
  • Other meetings include the Melbourne Cup - $5,300,000, the Breeders’ Cup Turf - $4,000,000, the Kentucky Derby - $1,425,000, and the Epsom Derby - $1,900,000.

In Qatar, there is a full race calendar from October through to April. This includes the HH Emir’s Sword Festival and the Qatar International Derby Festival, both held at the Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha. These two alone offer a prize pot of around $4,000,000.

There is a lot of money up for grabs by successful owners on the horse racing circuit. And, there are many more racecourses holding meetings all around the globe. However, there is an even more lucrative source of reward – the stud. When a top racing horse nears the end of its racing career, the next step, provided he hasn’t been gelded, is to be used for servicing mares.

A good stallion can expect to have up to 20 years working as a stud. He can mate (cover) 3 or 4 times a day, and each time he performs, he earns a fee. A stallion can comfortably cover 100-150 mares in a breeding season. If he is moved around to be available to mares around the world, 300-500 mares can be covered.

If you consider that top stallions (Galileo, Tapit, Dubawi and Deep Impact) can be charged at $200,000 to $500,000 for each successful cover, there is a potential to earn a staggering $60,000,000 a year for the owner. If you want to buy a top stallion, you would need to find something in the order of $200,000,000 to $500,000,000!

Image: Copyright Living2022


Wisely, Qatar has invested in a well-developed infrastructure to support the growth of its world-class horse racing industry. Home and abroad the country has invested in stud farms; a racecourse; arenas, stables and training facilities; horse welfare and veterinary facilities; and, all the appropriate support staff and systems.


At home, racing is centred around the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC) and the Al Rayyan racecourse. The country has several stud farms, breeding both Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds. There are also equine centres of excellence, the Al Samariyah Equestrian Centre and Al Shaqab. They not only offer arenas, stables, breeding, training and horse welfare and veterinary facilities, but opportunities for ownership, horse riding, research and equine education promoting horsemanship.

The Al Rayyan racecourse is a hive of activity supporting a packed race calendar, auctions, and shows. The 1400 seat grandstand is the ideal place for spectators and families to see the races at the 2400m turf track. It incorporates fast-food restaurants, corporate boxes and a hospitality tent. A full complement of staff is in place to support the race track, as well as the farrier’s workshop, pool, stables, veterinary clinic, riding school and transport section.

Major events on the racing calendar are the Qatar International Derby Festival and, the highlight of the year, the HH Emir’s Sword Festival. The HH Emir’s Sword Festival is a celebration of the nation’s culture and tradition and is held for Arabian and Thoroughbred horses with local and international runners. There is a total of $4.3 million in prize money. The highlight for international runners is the valuable $1 million HH The Emir’s Trophy. Entrants that are invited to meetings are looked after well, and transport, stabling, fodder veterinary services, farriers, accommodation, hotels and tickets are all provided.

With all of this available, international entries are coming to Qatar to compete in the races. International owners coming to race in Qatar know that they are going to be competing against world-class horses.

Qatar, with its numerous stud farms, is also in a position to offer the services of proven stallions ($5,000 - $30,000 for each successful cover). Arabian and Thoroughbred stallions, mares and offspring are regularly available for sale. As such, Qatari bred and owned horses are competing and winning races and prizes around the world.

And, Away

Overseas, Qatar now owns a host of related facilities and has partners in the UK, Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand and the USA breeding, training, racing, and buying and selling horses.

Sponsorship is the grease that oils the cogs of horse racing worldwide. Qatar has invested in multi-million dollar sponsorships that support world-famous meetings such as the Prix de l ‘Arc de Triomphe, Qatar Goodwood Festival, the Irish Championship Stakes and the British Championship Series.

The upshot is that renowned Qatari horses are now racing in countries all around the world. They are winning in countries including the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Dubai. Qatari horses won 79 races in 2019.

Behind much of this activity is the Qatar Investment & Projects Development Holding Company (QIPCO Holding). QIPCO owns QREC and Qatar Bloodstock. Qatar Bloodstock is based in Newmarket in the UK. It is a private investment company owned by six brothers who are members of the Royal Family of Qatar.

Qatar’s commitment to expanding its horse racing industry comes from a love of horses that extends back many hundreds of years. It is also from a desire to create sustainable economies to support the future of their nation. Indeed, the rewards are substantial. The industry raises an income, creates jobs, attracts investment, increases Qatar’s global profile, and in terms of the actual races, generates a staggering amount in prize money!

If you want to ride horses in Qatar, watch the races, or visit one of Qatar’s stud farms or racing academies, take a look at this Horsing Around in Qatar section of the website.



Published: January 09, 2020
Last updated: November 06, 2020
Related Articles
Arabian Horses

Caring for the Arabian horse, one of the oldest, most respected and loved breeds in the world, plays an essential role in preserving Qatar's cultural heritage.

Horsing Around in Qatar

If you want to see and ride some of the most beautiful horses in the world, there are plenty of places in Qatar waiting to welcome you.

The Rise of Horse Racing in Qatar

From watching the races to breeding, training and racing horses, both at home and around the world, this sport has become increasingly popular in Qatar.

Horse Racing

Horses can run shortly after birth, and, if trained for flat racing, can begin racing as early as two years old.