Ahead of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on March 26, we break down everything you need to know about the world’s most valuable night of horse racing.
Click arrows on the pictures to scroll through for information.
What is the Dubai World Cup?
• The Dubai World Cup was conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai and was first run in 1996.
• The inaugural race was won by the American superstar Cigar at Nad Al Sheba racecourse and in 2010 transferred to the glistening structure that is now Meydan racecourse.
• The Dubai World Cup is the most valuable horse race in the world, worth US$10 million (Dh36.7m) thanks to the sponsorship of Emirates Airline.
• It is a Group 1 race run over 2,000 metres.
• Overall on Dubai World Cup night there are nine races – six Group 1 races and three Group Two races with prize-money on the day totalling $US30 million.
• Last year’s race, the first back on a dirt surface since 2009 after which the race was run on Tapeta, was won by Saed bin Suroor’s Prince Bishop.
*All scheduling and course information is currently via race organisers and will be updated if changed
When and where is it?
• The Dubai World Cup is Saturday, March 26.
• The Dubai World Cup has been held at Meydan Racecourse since the UAE’s flagship racecourse was first built at a reported cost of $US1.25bn for the 2010 World Cup.
• The racecourse can most easily be reached from D69 via Sheikh Zayed Road. D69 can also be accessed from the Dubai-Al Ain Road.
• It is possible to get a slice of the action sooner by attending morning track work at the Breakfast With The Stars event on Thursday, March 24. This includes a lavish al fresco breakfast trackside, while multi-million dollar horseflesh strides down Meydan racecourse to the dulcet tones of commentator Terry Spargo.
• There are interviews with jockeys, trainers and owners and other entertainments. Gates open at 6am. Adult tickets cost AED175, and children aged five to 12 are AED75. Breakfast included.
• Tickets: Breakfast With The Stars link to book tickets: store.meydan.ae
What is special this year?
• Buoyed by their success back on the dirt surface last year the Americans are back in a big way.
• America sent over 16 horses last season and Secret Circle won the Dubai Golden Shaheen for a rare victory by an American horse at Meydan.
• Leading American horses such as California Chrome, Frosted and Keen Ice have taken a different approach this time and have arrived in Dubai much earlier than usual. All three have taken a prep race at Meydan and look primed for a big run.
Will we see the big stars?
It wouldn’t be the World Cup if we didn’t.
• American superstar California Chrome is attempting to go one better than last season in the World Cup itself, having endured a completely different, and more positive, preparation for the big race.
• With the retirement of the US Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, California Chrome is currently ranked the No.1 horse in the world, alongside Japanese raider Duramente and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s Postponed, who clash in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
• World Cup aspirant Frosted, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, comes next in the rankings, while Hong Kong challenger Not Listenin’tome, who is expected to line up in the Al Quoz Sprint, is sixth in the world standings.
• In his way in the turf sprint will be Sole Power, last year’s Al Quoz sprint winner who is one of three horses who won on last season’s card set to return.
• Solow, the French winner of the Dubai Turf, has booked his ticket to defend his crown, while Mubtaahij, who was so impressive in the UAE Derby, steps up to take on the Americans in the World Cup itself.
Horses to watch out for
• Solow and Frosted will always be popular as greys, but Special Fighter caused a huge upset on Super Saturday this month and as a local runner trained by Musabah Al Muhairi he is sure to attract significant attention.
• In terms of special aptitudes American sprinter XY Jet is sure to create a certain frisson in the Dubai Golden Shaheen as he likes to pin his ears back and set a searing pace from the front. He likely to go eyeball to eyeball with Al Muhairi’s Muarrab as soon as the gates open.
• In contrast, Tryster has set alight the Dubai World Cup Carnival with his lighting turn of foot that has twice resulted in him coming from last to first in thrilling fashion. The Godolphin horse takes on resolute galloper Solow in the Dubai Turf.
• Australian racegoers have had little to crow about at Meydan down the years but turf sprinter Buffering has arrived in Dubai and connections hope to follow up Ortensia’s 2012 success in the Al Quoz Sprint.
• In addition to horses from America, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong, there also will be representatives from England, France, Ireland and South Africa on show.
What are the main talking points?
Since the Dubai World Cup moved to Meydan the race has produced some strange results. Only the supremely talented Animal Kingdom could profess to be world class out of the six winners there, with the other five simply operating to best effect on the big night. It was a different story at Nad Al Sheba, where true champions regularly triumphed.
Those strange results could well come to an end with America set to field not only California Chrome, Frosted and Keen Ice, but dual surface performer Mshawish, Hopportunity, trained by American Pharoah’s Bob Baffert, and Watershed, stable companion to Frosted.
Both Watershed and Frosted are trained by Kiaran McLaughlin in America for Godolphin, as is Marking who will line up in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. This marks a notable shift in how Godolphin operate in Dubai.
Anything else to watch out for?
Janet Jackson may have cancelled her European tour last week but in Dubai the show must go on and the global superstar will take to the stage at 9.30pm, following the World Cup.
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