Timeframe: a look back at the first Dubai World Cup in 1996

As the race returns for its 26th year, take a look back at how it all began

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The first Dubai World Cup, founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, took place in 1996 and quickly cemented its place as one of the biggest events on the global horse-racing calendar.

The event took place at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, where US jockey Jerry Bailey and his horse Cigar won the race, which was worth $4 million. Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid, who at the time was Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, awarded the trophy.

"That moment on Cigar may well be the best moment in my life," Bailey later told The National.

In 2010, the race moved to the new Meydan Racecourse, which is the world's largest integrated racing facility, with a grandstand seating capacity of more than 60,000.

On Saturday, the race will take place for the 26th time. The meeting will feature 131 horses from 13 countries, including 78 top-calibre horses from outside the UAE, which will compete with 53 Emirati horses that are among the strongest in the country, including from the Godolphin stables.

It is still one of the richest days of horse racing in the world, with a total prize fund of $30.5 million. The final race of the cup, sponsored by Emirates airline, has a prize of $12 million and is expected to produce fierce competition, especially with the participation of the best American horses, which will compete with each other and against carefully prepared local horses over the 2,000-metre stretch.

Updated: March 27, 2022, 8:57 AM