Dubai World Cup 2019 at Meydan: as it happened
Predictions, high stakes and high fashion: all of the day's events from Meydan Racecourse
Godolphin's Thunder Snow made history when he won the world's richest horse race at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Saturday.
Thunder Snow – trained by Godolphin, the horse-racing operation owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai – won the event in a photo finish, beating American-owned Gronkowski by a nose.
It was the first time a horse had won the event twice and retained the cup.
Across nine races, $35m was won in an afternoon and evening of high-thrills racing. Godolphin won four of the nine events.
Here you will find analysis, results and behind the scenes insight from The National's reporters at Meydan.
21:05 Leadership celebrates Thunder Snow's victory
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, is seen celebrating and kissing two-time winning horse, Thunder Snow.
Shortly after, the UAE national anthem was played as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Hamdan accepted the Dubai World Cup trophy.
Sheikh Mohammed marked the victory with a celebratory dance.
Then, a magnificent display of fireworks lit up the sky at Meydan Racecourse.
Sheikh Mohammed then tweeted a picture of the photo finish in the Dubai World Cup, congratulating the horse.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also offered his congratulations.
"We congratulate Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid for Thunder Snow winning the Dubai World Cup, an historic achievement for winning this world cup for the second year in a row," he said.
20:42 Result: Thunder Snow wins Dubai World Cup
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow became the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice and in the process give trainer Saeed bin Suroor his ninth winner of the race.
Drawn second widest of the 12 runners in the field, jockey Christophe Soumillon, who also rode the five-year-old to success in the race at Meydan 12 months ago, was quick out of the gate and was always in contention as North America led early on.
Gronkowski under Oisin Murphy took up the running on the home stretch but Soumillon and Thunder Snow battled by to win by a nose.
Meydan is awash with deafening celebrations from a crowd thrilled by the race.
One Emirati man who was here last year to see Thunder Snow win the first of his two Dubai World Cups tells says "I'm happy, it's better this year".
20:25 Next up: Dubai World Cup
In just under 15 minutes, the world's richest race and the jewel of the UAE's racing crown will take place.
It is the highlight of the day's racing and one of the biggest events of the racing calendar.
Godolphin's Thunder Snow is looking to do what no horse has done before: win the Dubai World Cup twice and retain it.
20:01 Result: Godolphin's Old Persian wins Sheema Classic
Old Persian completed a hat-trick for the trainer-jockey partnership of Charlie Appleby and William Buick to complete a treble on Dubai World Cup night for Godolphin.
Buick produced a well-timed run to power his way to the front and hold off the challenges of Japanese pair Cheval Grand and Suave Richard to claim the Dubai Sheema Classic in impressive style. - Amith Passela
19:45 Next up: Dubai Sheema Classic
The penultimate race is the Dubai Sheema Classic, with a whopping $6 million prize fund.
Running over 2,410 metres on turf, eight horses will compete for the pole position.
Our racing reporter Amith Passela has had a great day of predictions so far, here's his preview for the penultimate race:
This looks another prize that can fall to Godolphin. Old Persian is the most appealing of the eight runners after his victory in the Group 2 City Of Gold, the trail race on Super Saturday, when he had to overcome heavy traffic to win from another Godolphin runner, Racing History, by a short head. Magic Wand is respected.
Predictions: 1. Old Persian 2. Magic Wand 3. Rey De Oro
19:22 Result: Dubai Turf won by Almond Eye
Almond Eye stretched her winning run to seven races after easily disposing her rivals in the $6million Group 1 Dubai Turf in exhilarating style.
Racing for the first time outside of Japan, the Japanese Triple Crown and Group 1 Japan Cup winner was simply outstanding.
Christophe Lemaire held her in the middle and outside of the field 13-runner field, and when asked her for a run she stretched away to win ahead of another Japanese runner, Vivlos and the British-trained runner Lord Glitters. - Amith Passela
19:15 Next up: Dubai Turf
Only three more races left at the Dubai World Cup.
Some $24 million is up for grabs in the next two ours, one quarter of which will be at the Dubai Turf race of 1,800 metres.
Here's Amith Passela's predictions:
Almond Eye gets a lot of attention in this race as she competes for the first time outside her native Japan. She has won six of her career starts, including all three legs of the Filly Triple Crown and the Group 1 Japan Cup. Her handler, Sakae Kunieda, has gone on record saying: “Even I don’t know where her limit is yet.” This race has drawn an international field from Britain, France, Australia, South Africa and Japan, challenged by Godolphin’s trio Dream Castle - a winner three times over the course and distance - Wootton and Mountain Hunter.
Predictions: 1. Almond Eye 2. Dream Castle 3. Wootton.
18:42 Result: Dubai Golden Shaheen won by XY Jet
XY Jet made it third time lucky in the $2.5million Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Breaking from Gate 3, the seven-year-old made every yard of the running under Emisael Jaramillo to win ahead of Japan’s Matera Sky and Imperial Hint.
XY Jet was runner-up in 2016 and again last year, but there was no denying him this time.
Yutake Take, on board Matera Sky, tried hard but Jaramillo’s mount had the speed and power to stay in front. Imperial Hint under Jose Oritz, who was bidding a hat-trick of wins, claimed third. - Amith Passela
18:40 Next up: Dubai Golden Shaheen
Another sprint is next up at Meydan Racecourse as the sun sets on Dubai.
Here's Amith Passela's top three:
Predictions: 1. Imperial Hint 2. XY Jet 3. Roy H
18:09 Result: A perfect race or better? Plus Que Parfait wins UAE Derby
Jose Oritz steered his second winner of the Dubai World Cup meet when steering home Plus Que Parfait to lead an American one-two finish in the UAE Derby.
For a moment it looked local horse Manguzi, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, would stay on to take the prize but Plus Que Parfait and Grey Magician with Joel Rosario were the stronger at the finish line.
Plus Que Parfait held on to win ahead of Grey Magician with Manguzi, ridden by Fernando Jara, third.
It was the second success for the Americans after Oritz and Coal Front won the Godolphin Mile.
Godolphin’s bid for a hat-trick were dashed when Divine Image came under pressure at the top of the stretch and faded from fourth spot she held for much of the race. - Amith Passela
18:00 Meydan from above
It's always good to get a different perspective on things. So that's why the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre published satellite imagery of Meydan Racecourse.
There's something extremely satisfying about seeing the course from above. Take a look:
17:55 Next up: UAE Derby
We're back on the dirt now for the UAE Derby and the total prize money kicks up to $2.5m.
Amith Passela correctly predicted the last two winners, can he make it a hat-trick? Here's his preview:
Divine Image sets a decent standard having won three of her four career starts. The only blemish was when she missed the break on her Meydan debut, yet still she came from a long way from the back to finish runner-up in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.
She won her next two starts over the UAE Derby course and distance, and looks all set to extend Godolphin’s record run in the race to nine victories. If successful, she will also become the second filly, after Godolphin’s Khawlah in 2011, to win the UAE Derby.
Predictions: 1. Divine Image 2. Stubbins 3. Plus Que Parfait
17:33 Al Quoz Sprint won by Godolphin's Blue Point
Blue Point completed a quick double for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby by winning the $2m Al Quoz Sprint in a track record time to complete a hat-trick of wins at Meydan this season.
William Buick had Blue Point well-covered for most of the race before unleashing him in the final 200 metres to win ahead of the American pair of Belvoir Bay and Stormy Liberal – last year’s runner-up.
Blue Point missed out on the prize last year when he was withdrawn moments before the start of the race on veterinary advice after blood was spotted in his nostrils.
He had won twice in the Dubai World Cup Carnival before this impressive win. - Amith Passela
17:30 Watch: After racing, bath time
After a horse races there is a huge amount of after care needed.
Each horse is walked and bathed to make sure they're ready to race as fast as possible next time.
17:20 Next up: Al Quoz Sprint
The joint shortest race of the day, $2m is to be won at the Al Quoz Sprint on turf.
Amith Passela predicted the last winner, can he do it again? Here's what he had to say about this race:
Blue Point missed out on competing for the prize last year when he was withdrawn moments before the start of the race after blood was spotted in his nostrils.
His stable companion Jungle Cat went on to win the race from the two-time Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal, who is returning for a second crack.
Blue Points looks rock solid after breezing past his rivals in two starts in the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Predictions: 1. Blue Point 2. Caribou Club 3. Stormy Liberal
17:10 UAE flag raised as world cup is opened
The flag of the UAE was raised shortly after the Dubai Gold Cup, as the crowd stood to listen to the national anthem.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, also officially opened the Dubai World Cup evening.
Sheikh Mohammed arrived at Meydan Racecourse earlier in the afternoon.
16:54 Result: Godolphin's Cross Counter wins the Dubai Gold Cup
Cross Counter replicated his Melbourne Cup heroics to lead a one-two for Godolphin in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup Turf.
William Buick had Cross Counter well covered up in fourth before joining stablemate Ispolini under Brett Doyle to go clear in the final 400m to provide Charlie Appleby a one-two in the race.
Call The Wind, trained in France by Freddy Head and ridden by Aureliel Lemaitre, finished third. - Amith Passela
16:50 Dubai Gold Cup begins
The next race is the first on turf over 3,200m.
16:40 Amith's predictions holding up
Okay, so our racing reporter hasn't predicted any winners...yet, but his predictions have done well so far.
Both AF Maher and Coal Front were in his top three for the first two races, and a smattering of the next fastest horses were all in his favourites.
16:19 Result: Coal Front wins Godolphin Mile
Coal Front, under Jose Oritz, put one on the board for the United States with a strong late run to outstay defending champion Heavy Metal and last year’s runner-up Muntazah. The Todd Pletcher-trained Coal Front broke well from the second widest gate of 12 runners and raced fourth on the outside of Heavy Metal, Muntazah and the Turkish raider Good Curry.
Good Curry dropped out as Mickael Barzalona drove to the front on the home stretch, but Oritz found enough in the tank of Coal Front to clinch the race in the final 10 metres. Muntazah stayed on to take third under Jim Crowley. - Amith Passela
José Ortiz gives US-trained Coal Front an absolute gem of a ride, drawn wide and coming off the pace. Not an easy thing to do at Meydan. And did I mention this is the first time Ortiz has ever ridden at this track. A masterclass - Rupert Hawksley
16:15 Sun shines for Dubai World Cup
If there was any doubt, the skies have cleared for the UAE's horse racing highlight after a gloomy week.
When asked how the weather was, The National's news desk editor Rory Reynolds simply replied, "Hey, pretty nice."
Back to the horses, Rory.
16:10 Godolphin Mile next up
The second race is the Godolphin Mile on the dirt again. Racing over 1,600 metres, the winner will come home with $1.5m. Here's the pre-race prediction from Amith Passela:
The runner-up in the race behind Heavy Metal last year, Muntazah is returning to the track after back-to-back victories, including in the Burj Nahaar, the Godolphin Mile Trial, in his last start on Super Saturday. American raiders Coal Front and True Timber are the two Muntazah has to fear most. Godolphin’s Major Partnership - after winning his last start on the Meydan turf - and the Turkish runner Good Curry - third behind Muntazah in his last start - are worth considering.
Predictions: 1. Muntazah 2. Coal Front 3. True Timber
15:48 Result: AF Maher wins the Dubai Kahayla Classic
AF Maher, under Tadhg O’Shea, won the $1m (Dh3.67m) Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic to give the trainer-owner partnership of Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa bin Naboodah their first success at a Dubai World Cup meeting.
The UAE-bred six-year-old led and then regained the lead in the final 200m after Fazza Al Khalediah had overtaken him at the top of the stretch.
Eric Lemartinel-trained Amwaj under Fabrice Veron was third.
It was O’Shea’s second Kahayla Classic victory having won the race on board Mizzna at the old course at Nad Al Sheba in 2008 - Amith Passela
15:45 Dubai Kahayla Classic opens world's richest race
In a flash, the day's racing begins. Some 14 Purebred Arabians are steaming down the dirt track Meydan Racecourse.
Stay tuned for the result.
15:15 Half an hour until the first race
In thirty minutes the racing for the 23rd Dubai World Cup will begin.
Across two kilometres, Purebred Arabians will race the Dubai Kahayla Classic. Despite being the lowest value race of the day, US$1m are at stake for whoever crosses the line first.
And on that all important question, our horse racing reporter Amith Passela says:
Tallaab Al Khalediah has won every race he has run and could stretch his record to 10 if he can replicate his run in the Kahayla Classic 12 months ago. Challenging the Saudi Arabian eight-year-old are 14 others, 12 of them trained in the UAE, while Fazza Al Khalediah is flown in from Poland and Al Shamoos arrives from France but runs in the silks of Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed.
Predictions: 1. Tallaab Al Khalediah 2. Fazza Al Khalediah 3. AF Maher
14:42 Early lead in the sartorial race
Never mind the horse racing, at this stage of the day it's all about the fashion, our features writer Rupert Hawksley reports:
One thing's for sure: it's much easier to pick out the winners in this field. Photographers have been flocking to this dapper duo from the moment they arrived at Meydan - and it's fair to say they've been enjoying the attention.
The gentleman on the left has travelled all the way from Sudan, marking the occasion by fitting himself out in a dashing pastel green suit, which his friend in purple and blue designed.
"I needed new energy," he tells me. "I needed to challenge myself. Normal people can't wear it."
I certainly wouldn't argue with that, sir.
13:57 Dubai World Cup expert in the pink
In her 14th year at the Dubai World Cup, Katharina Dietrich is putting the peacock into peacocking, Rupert Hawksley discovers.
Dressed in an extraordinary ensemble peppered with flowers, Katharina has excelled at accessorising – fan, handbag and necklace all punch pink.
To top it all off, a peacock, sitting gracefully in a truly fascinating fascinator, with a "Dubai World Cup" sign.
Every year she has come in an outfit topping the last. So what's the trick? "It's all about spontaneous thinking," she says. "I see pink flowers and have an idea."
After 14 years, Katharina must know a thing or two about the horses. So how about a winner? "We have no idea," a friend of Katharina's says. "I think Godolphin [will win]."
The right answer for sure.
13:44 Crowds clamour for prime seats
With racing beginning in exactly two hours, racing fans are competing to get the best seats in the stadium: the ones right by the finish line.
You have to be quick to get the best seats, fortunately, our fast-footed reporter Rupert Hawksley is there front and centre.
13:35 A race-day poem from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, wrote a poem celebrating the Dubai World Cup, which he founded more than 20 years ago.
In the poem, Sheikh Mohammed says horses "are my life, my joy from the very first day.”
The Ruler of Dubai also uses clever wordplay – using the former name for Dubai and the Arabic word for "connection" – to show how the Dubai World Cup connects people from around the world.
13:15 Race-goers flood to Meydan for a day of races
The gates to Meydan racecourse have swung open and tens of thousands of spectators are flooding into Dubai's stadium for the high-value day of racing in the world.
The skies, which were cloudy and full of rain earlier in the week, appear to be holding clear. But hold onto your hats, keep your pocket squares in sight and grip your programmes because high winds are due to sweep across Dubai.
Stay glued to our live blog for the latest coverage from Meydan Racecourse.
Dubai World Cup racing predictions
A whopping $35 million is up for grabs at this year's world cup and the question on everyone's lips is: who will win?
Well, our horse racing expert, Amith Passela, has his predictions at the ready.
Will Thunder Snow canter his way to victory again or will Seeking The Soul run his way into Dubai's history books?
Hatless? Follow advice from our fashion experts
While the most exciting action is on the track, Meydan Racecourse is also known for something else: high fashion and extravagant headwear.
London milliner Ana Pribylova, who is one of the style judges at the event this year, shares her advice on getting race-day ready.
“Start small if you have never worn a hat before or on a regular basis. Having said that, you need to feel good in your hat; confidence is key. If you are brave and want a big hat, just go for it,” she tells our lifestyle editor Panna Munyal.
Will the UAE's recent bad weather clear in time?
The grass at Meydan racecourse will have appreciated the weather, softening up the going under-hoof, but the big question is whether the weather will clear in time for the racing on Saturday.
No ticket? Neigh worries: last-minute Meydan hotel and racecourse package deals
Meydan Hotel packages:
Farriers at The Meydan Hotel
March 30, 3pm until 10pm, regular tables start from Dh650, firstname.lastname@example.org, 04 381 3111
The Millennium Terrace at The Meydan Hotel
March 30, 3pm until 10pm, Dh1,250 per person, email@example.com, 04 381 3111
Race Day packages:
There are still packages available for the big race at the Meydan Racecourse. Remember, if you’re heading to the event, you must adhere to the dress code of smart attire.
Breakfast with the Stars
March 28, 5.30am until 9.30am, children under four go for free, tickets for children five to 12 are Dh50, tickets for adults start at Dh150
Tickets cost Dh350
The Rails restaurant
Dh1,100 per person with a minimum of four guests
Dh1,900 per person
Shared grandstand suites
Dh2,250 per person
For more information and to buy tickets, visit: www.dubaiworldcup.com
How to get to Meydan Racecourse: free buses, taxis and parking
Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority has said it will lay on 50 buses to take fans from Deira City Centre and Dubai Mall metro station to Meydan Racecourse.
Extra parking will be provided near the Nad Al Sheba mosque and opposite Falcon Research Centre, World Cup organisers said.
A free shuttle service, taking travellers to the racecourse, will also be available from this parking area.
The Business Bay and Dubai Mall stations on the metro red line are the closest to the Meydan Racecourse, with taxis also on hand to transport fans to the race.
In recent years, the RTA has also supplied thousands of taxis to cope with the surge in demand on World Cup day.
Updated: March 30, 2019 10:54 PM