Dubai World Cup

Dubai World Cup kicks off tomorrow

The 27th Dubai World Cup, to be held on Saturday 25 March, is an unrivalled competition of talent in the sport, with 129 horses from 13 countries competing. A total of 78 international and 51 Emirati horses, including horses from the famous Godolphin stable, will compete for the $30.5 million prize money.

For the global equestrian community, the Dubai World Cup represents the pinnacle of excellence not only in racing, but in many areas of the thoroughbred riding industry. It is not just the athleticism of the horses that is competed at the races, but also the scientific knowledge and specialist know-how of the equestrian industry, in which Dubai has become a world leader. Over the past two decades, Dubai has created a dynamic equestrian ecosystem that produces both champion horses and pockets of innovation in the industry.

The emergence of Dubai as an equestrian centre stems from the region’s age-old tradition of equestrianism. More than 300 years ago, the crossbreeding of three Arabian stallions – Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian and Byerly Turk – resulted in the main lines of modern thoroughbred horses. Today, most thoroughbreds can be attributed to these three Arabian stallions. Sheikh Mohammed’s passion for horses grew into a major horse breeding company that evolved into Godolphin, a global thoroughbred breeding company and racing team that now spans four continents.

The ambitious global expansion of thoroughbred horse racing began in 1996 in the Emirate, when the first World Cup was held in Dubai. The presence of the world’s best horses, including Cigar, the all-conquering American champion who won the inaugural event, heralded the transformation of the event into a major world tournament. Later, in 2004, the emirate launched the Dubai World Cup Carnival, a nine-week racing series.

Since its inception, the Dubai World Cup has become one of the fiercest races and most memorable feats in the sport. In 2000, the Dubai Millennium, owned by Godolphin, scored one of the tournament’s most cherished triumphs, while in 2008, another American star, Curlin, won by one of the biggest margins in Cup history. Three years later, in 2011, Victoire Pisa and Transcend gave Japan their first win and a 1 – 2 finish in the coveted race. In 2012, Godolphin returned to the winning podium with Monterosso taking first place and Capponi second. In 2017, world champion Arrogate stunned the world with an impossible victory from last out, and in 2018 and 2019, Thunder Snow won top honours, becoming the only horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice. In 2021, Mystic Guide will be the 13th winner for UAE horses, 11 of which belong to the Godolphin team.

In recent years, Dubai has become a major player in helping the equestrian sport recover from the effects of global challenges. At a time when the equestrian world was halted by the COVID-19 virus, Dubai’s effectiveness in implementing a vaccination programme made it possible for the 2021 Dubai World Cup to be held in a protected environment. The 2022 event is back in full force, with huge crowds enjoying the action at Meydan Racecourse. 

A significant increase in prize money in the 2021-2022 season has reinforced Dubai’s status as an international racing hub. In addition, several new initiatives by major local industry players, worth an estimated $400 million (Dh1.47 billion), are giving a strong boost to the global industry. One of these, the Dubai Equestrian Forum, launched in 2021, a joint initiative between the Dubai Equestrian Club and the Dubai Racing Club, brings together stakeholders from around the world at Meydan Racecourse to explore how they can shape a new future for the industry.

Dubai also plays a key role in developing the global horse racing and training expertise. Godolphin’s trainers lead the way in horse racing and breeding, with around 1,000 horses participating worldwide. They all have access to five-star facilities that include private grass and all-weather gallops, pools and equestrian spas.

The Emirate is also a leading player in equine healthcare, with many top-class hospitals and clinics, including Dubai Equine Hospital, founded in 1995. These facilities offer a full range of innovative veterinary procedures and services, from routine care to advanced stem cell therapy.

Dubai’s success in equestrian sport and its emergence as the world’s leading horse racing venue reflects its emergence as a major city on the world stage. This year’s Dubai World Cup will be another celebration not only of equestrian achievements but also of the emirate’s spirit of excellence.

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