There’s plenty to look forward to for racing fans towards the end of March, with the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster signalling the return of the domestic flat season.
The biggest race of them all though comes not on these shores but over in Dubai on Saturday, as Meydan plays host to its Dubai World Cup card, headlined by the $12 million big race itself.
Dubai World Cup Course Map (Dirt Course)
Dubai World Cup Past Winners
|2021||Mystic Guide||6/4||Michael Stidham||Luis Saez|
|2019||Thunder Snow||4/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon|
|2018||Thunder Snow||8/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon|
|2017||Arrogate||1/3||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith|
|2016||California Chrome||15/8||Art Sherman||Victor Espinoza|
|2015||Prince Bishop||14/1||Saeed bin Suroor||William Buick|
|2014||African Story||12/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Silvestre De Sousa|
|2013||Animal Kingdom||11/2||Graham Motion||Joel Rosario|
|2012||Monterosso||20/1||Mahmood Al Zarooni||Mickael Barzalona|
|2011||Victoire Pisa||12/1||Katsuhiko Sumii||Mirco Demuro|
|2010||Gloria de Campeao||16/1||Pascal Bary||T. J. Pereira|
|2009||Well Armed||10/1||Eoin G. Harty||Aaron Gryder|
|2008||Curlin||4/11||Steve Asmussen||Robby Albarado|
|2007||Invasor||5/4||Kiaran McLaughlin||Fernando Jara|
|2006||Electrocutionist||5/4||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2005||Roses in May||11/8||Dale L. Romans||John Valazquez|
|2004||Pleasantly Perfect||5/2||Richard Mandella||Alex Solis|
|2003||Moon Ballad||11/4||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2002||Street Cry||9/2||Saeed bin Suroor||Jerry Bailey|
|2001||Captain Steve||7/4||Bob Baffert||Jerry Bailey|
About the Dubai World Cup: One of the World’s Richest Races
The story of Dubai is a fascinating one. Strategic decisions by the tiny Emirate to invest their oil revenues have turned Dubai into a global hub of transport, freight, tourism and entertainment. World class sporting events make up a huge part of the entertainment found in Dubai including several high calibre – not to mention incredibly lucrative – horse racing meetings.
Dubai World Cup Night is perhaps the most important of these meetings. As the name of the meeting suggests, it is headlined by the Dubai World Cup, a race that is worth $12 million. It’s run over a distance of 2,000 meters (that’s roughly 10 furlongs) at Meydan Racecourse and holds Group 1 status. The size of the prize and the prestige that comes with winning this race means that many of the biggest trainers and owners enter their leading horses into the Dubai World Cup every year.
Finally Settled After Several Changes
The biggest flat races in Britain have a format that is set in stone. We know that the 2000 Guineas is run over 1 mile and that the Derby takes place over 1 mile 4 furlongs for example but when you look at the early history of even those massive races you’ll see that it took a while for things like the distance, entry requirements and even the race course to be confirmed.
It should, therefore, be no surprise that it took a while for the Dubai World Cup to find a settled home given that it was only introduced in 1996. During that time it’s always been held at 10 furlongs but it was initially held at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse before the brand spanking new facilities were opened at Meydan.
The move to Meydan in 2010 was not the end of the changes for the Dubai World Cup. The first five renewals there were held on the Tapeta all weather surface that was installed at great cost. However, the costs of maintaining the Tapeta and the lack of popularity with which it was held by American trainers in particular meant that the Dubai World Cup became a dirt race once more in 2015. It’s worth noting that the race is restricted to four-year-olds and older for Northern Hemisphere horses whereas three-year-olds from the Southern Hemisphere are permitted to enter.
A Global Event
Racing organisers have come to the conclusion in recent years that they need to provide more than just top quality racing to get high numbers of fans through the doors. With all due respect to those who put on an Olly Murs concert after a summer night’s card at Newmarket, Dubai World Cup Night is on a completely different level.
Past performers at this spectacular occasion include Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson whilst the calibre of horse competing in the Dubai World Cup itself is guaranteed by one of the biggest prize purses in all of racing. It was the richest horse race in the world for some time but has lost that crown in more recent years. None the less, $12 million (£9 million) is enough to make most owners sit up and take notice.
World’s Richest Horse Races in 2020
|Saudi Cup||King Abdulaziz Racetrack||Riyadh, Saudi Arabia||£15.0 million|
|Dubai World Cup||Meydan||Meydan City, Dubai||£9.2 million|
|The Everest||Royal Randwick||Sydney, Australia||£8.0 million|
|Dubai Turf||Meydan||Meydan City, Dubai||£4.7 million|
|Sheema Classic||Meydan||Meydan City, Dubai||£4.7 million|
|Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe||Longchamp||Paris, France||£4.5 million|
|Melbourne Cup||Flemington||Melbourne, Australia||£4.4 million|
|Breeders’ Cup Classic||Various||USA||£4.3 million|
|Japan Cup||Tokyo Racecourse||Tokyo, Japan||£4.1 million|
|Arima Kinen||Nakayama Racecourse||Funabashi, Japan||£4.1 million|
|Tokyo Yushun||Tokyo Racecourse||Tokyo, Japan||£3.0 million|
|Breeders’ Cup Turf||Various||USA||£2.9 million|
|Caulfield Cup||Caulfield||Melbourne, Australia||£2.8 million|
|Cox Plate||Moonee Valley||Melbourne, Australia||£2.8 million|
|Kentucky Derby||Churchill Downs||Kentucky, USA||£2.4 million|
|Pegasus World Cup||Gulfstream Park||Florida, USA||£2.3 million|
|Queen Elizabeth Stakes||Royal Randwick||Sydney, Australia||£2.2 million|
The riches on offer attract entries from horses around the world but it’s rare for a winner to be trained anywhere other than either the UAE or the USA. Singspiel is the only UK-trained horse to win the Dubai World Cup when he won the second edition back in 1997. Other than the French-trained Glória de Campeão and the Japanese-trained Victoire Pisa, all other winners were either American raiders or were based very close to Dubai.