Russia’s biggest annual horse race, the President’s Cup, is due to begin on the evening of July 1 in Moscow, with the presidents of Bolivia, Venezuela, and Iran in attendance.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the race, which was established by Russia’s Agriculture Ministry. Russian President Vladimir Putin will award the President’s Cup, which comes with a cash prize of 10 million rubles (around $304,000).
The race coincides with the second meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. The summit brings together the leaders of 12 gas-exporting countries, which account for 70 percent of the world’s natural-gas reserves.
Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told journalists in Moscow that the race is not only "spectacular" but acts as a "strong incentive for the further development of our country’s thoroughbred horse breeding."
Judging by these photos
, taken at the event in 2009, the evening promises to be a lavish one. This year the guests will also enjoy a gala dinner in addition to the race itself.
Six different trophies will be presented at the race, which takes place at the Central Moscow Hippodrome. This year’s prize fund totals 28.5 million rubles (around $867,000).
According to the RBK news website, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov -- well-known for his equine empire
-- will have six horses competing in this year's race. Kadyrov reportedly spent 500,000 rubles ($15,000) just on application and entrance fees, not including the shipping costs or the cost of the horses' two-week maintenance during their stay at the hippodrome.
In 2009, Kadyrov provoked outrage from Australian human rights activists who did not want his horses to race in the Melbourne Cup because of allegations of gross human rights abuses in Chechnya. Kadyrov's horses have also been banned from racing in the United States.
Another prominent race participant is Gazprom Chairman Aleksei Miller. His horse -- named Fragranta -- won the "National Treasure" award, the race's second-most-prestigious trophy, when the President's Cup was held in Kazan in 2011. Media reports said Miller was so overcome
that he bounded onto the track to pet his horse.
-- Deana Kjuka