Field of Dreams
Created in 1996 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai and owner of Darley Stud and Godolphin Racing, Dubai World Cup is now in its 19th year, and remains the richest horse race in the world. The 2014 Carnival promises a line-up
Officially the flat racing season began in Dubai in early January and will culminate in the Dubai World Cup Carnival, traditionally held on the last Saturday of March (29th March). This is the fifth year that the Carnival, which encompasses 11 high-quality race meetings featuring 27 Group and Listed races, will be held at the state of the art Tapeta track that is Meydan Racecourse since it was launched in 2004. Super Saturday is held on 8th March and is always seen as a spectacular dress rehearsal for horses looking to compete at the Dubai World Cup held on 30 March.
This will mark the third year that the Dubai World Cup programme will comprise nine races; when the Dubai World Cup debuted in 1996 at Nad Al Sheba there were a total of six races. The list of Group races will include the Group 1 $10 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline; Group 1 $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, presented by Longines; Group 1 $5 million Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free; Group 1 $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Emirates NBD; Group 2 $2m Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News; Group 2 $2m UAE Derby, sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group; Group 2 $1 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Etisalat; Group 3 US$1 million Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors; and the Group 1 $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians, sponsored by Emaar.
Dubai World Cup attracts global attention as its line-up of world-class racehorses, jockeys and owners compete for a total prize fund of US$27.25 million. And with approximately 80,000 guests attending, it is famed as the social and fashion highlight of the Dubai calendar. Apron Views and Bubble Lounge at Meydan are the places to be seen and spot celebrities like Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai, who was one of the judges in the 2012 Best Dressed competition.
Indeed almost as much attention is paid to the Jaguar Style Stakes as is given over to the race cards. Categories for 2014 include ‘Best Dressed Lady’ (winner and runner-up), ‘Best Hat’, ‘Best Dressed Man’, ‘Best Dressed Couple’ and ‘Most Creative Hat’.
The lucky ‘Best Dressed Lady’ will drive away a brand new Jaguar XK for a year and winners of the other categories will receive prizes from Jaguar and additional sponsors such as HTC mobile phones, NStyle International, The Meydan hotel, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa and Meydan Beach.
The winner of ‘Most Elegant Lady’, sponsored by Longines and selected by a team of style spotters as racing guests arrive on the day, will also be presented as part of the Jaguar Style Stakes programme.
It should be noted that the dress code for the free admission area is casual attire however smart attire is required for those entering the Meydan Grandstand hospitality area. Women are encouraged to wear hats and proper racewear, while t-shirts, trainers, flip flops and shorts are strictly prohibited in the Parade Ring. Fashionistas will need no hints as what’s in and what’s not. The catwalk this season is all about lace, white and monochrome chic…
But what about the horses? Since the inaugural race was won by Cigar owned by American Allen E Paulson, there have been many notable names in the roll of honour and each have given the race credibility and international clout. Singspiel was Sheikh Mohammed’s first winner in 1997 while Dubai Millennium provided a stunning victory in Godolphin colours in 2000.
Jockey Jerry Bailey remains the most successful rider in the event with four winners. Having ridden the first two winners, he won on Captain Steve (2001) and Street Cry (2002), the latter providing leading trainer Saeed Bin Suroor with the third of his record five winners in the race. His later winners were Moon Ballad (2003) and Electrocutionist (2006).
The Americans have had the most winners with Pleasantly Perfect (2004), Roses In May (2005), Invasor (2007), Curlin (2008) and Well Armed (2009). In 2010 Glória de Campeão gave Brazil a memorable triumph in the race and Victoire Pisa (2011) added to the international flavour of the event when winning for Japan.
In 2012 the Dubai World Cup was won by Monterosso, owned by the Godolphin Stables and trained by Mahmoud Al Zarooni. He was followed home by stable companion Capponi, another first achievement in the race.
This year the Dubai World Cup has received a staggering 272 entries from 11 countries at the end of the free nominations stage, led by a 184-horse entry from the UAE.
As expected the Group 1 contest, has attracted some of the best thoroughbreds from around the world including 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, 2012 Eclipse Award-winning and Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic heroine Royal Delta and 2012 South African champion Igugu. Trained by South African legend Mike de Kock, Igugu is hotly anticipated to win, while Argentina’s Premio Classico General Belgrano and Breeder’s Cup Marathon Winner Calidoscopio are also nominated.
Defending champion Monterosso looks like the pick of the local entries as he bids to become the first horse in history to win the race twice. Monterosso represents six-time Dubai World Cup winner Godolphin and, together with the progressive Farhh, twice runner-up to the great Frankel last season, heads a significant 28-horse entry from the stable.
Whatever the result, a visit to Dubai World Cup is a mixture of excitement, glamour, and pride in being a part of such an acclaimed international event.
Need to Know
• Dhs25 for general admission and packages start from Dhs350;
• Tel: +971 (0)4 327 2110