The Dubai World Cup is an annual thoroughbred horse race event held at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse. It consists of a total of nine top-class races, eight of which are a thoroughbred contest with the other being a purebred Arabian contest.
The race day boasts a whopping total prize pot of US$30 million (Dhs110,190,000) across all races throughout the day, with the winner of the main event taking home US$10million (Dhs36,730,000).
The world-famous race was set up by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and owner of Goldophin and Darley Stud – a massive player in the world’s leading horse racing and breeding operations.
The event has been held at the Meydan Racecourse since 2006, although the first race was held at the now defunct Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 1996. This was won by the US star Cigar, ridden by Jerry Bailey who holds the title for the most wins in the race, winning it three more times.
Horses aren’t the only things on show, as the event brings in a list of local and international celebrities that dress up specifically for the occasion. Be sure to look your sharpest, as prizes are up for grabs for best dressed.
Want to know more? Check out more answers for the most frequently asked questions below.
When is it?
This Saturday March 31 sees the 23rd running of the race and it’s set to be a corker, with current front-runners including Godolphin’s Talismanic and Thunder Snow, as well as Collected, Heavy Metal and the hot favourite West Coast, trained by US trainer Bob Baffert. The handler will be looking for a second consecutive success in the race, after he saddled Arrogate to win the 2017 renewal, which wasn’t dampened by the torrential rain. We’ll be hoping for better weather this year to show off our magnificent millinery, however. There’s also a battle of the sexes in 2018, with all eyes on much-fancied champion mare Forever Unbridled. She’s to be ridden by Arrogate’s winning jockey Mike Smith.
It will be the first start against the males for the six-year-old mare who last season won all three races she ran in. Meanwhile there’s also strong support for North America, who defeated Thunder Snow by 2.5 lengths in the Al Maktoum Challenge on Super Saturday, a prep run for the World Cup, at the track on March 10. Prepared for the race by Dubai-based Indian trainer Satish Seemar and ridden by British jockey Richard Mullen, the six-year-old son of sire Dubai is expected to make a big impact. Hold on to your hats, it’s looking like a thriller.
What should I wear?
Forget the tweed and flat caps you might associate with your local racetrack, this is one occasion to dig out the gladrags for. It’s time to find a showstopping hat and an awe-inspiring outfit – not least because there are some top prizes up for grabs for the best dressed.
Men, it’s time to get suited and booted, while ladies you’ll want to don your highest heels and fanciest frock. There are prizes for best dressed man, woman, couple and even the most creative hat. You don’t have to wear one shaped like the Burj Khalifa, but you won’t be the first to do so if you do.
How can I get a ticket?
The best way to get involved is to book tickets online, where tickets range from Dhs630 for Apron views to into the thousands for hospitality. However, the race will also be shown on the Dubai Racing Channel, if you fancy watching from the comfort of your sofa.
How do I get there?
With the race being on at Meydan Racecourse, the prime race horsing district in the UAE, there are plenty of ways to make your way there. By car, take Sheikh Zayed Road, exit 47 from the 2nd interchange and turn right onto Al Meydan Road and follow the signs to Meydan Racecourse. You can check the location here.
If you’re planning on taking the Metro, get off at Business Bay metro station and take a taxi to the racecourse from there. There’s also a designated taxi drop-off and pick up point outside the Meydan Grandstand.
How long is it on for?
The races begin at 3:45pm, but gates are open for everyone at noon. With a total of nice races to get through, expect the event to go on until late, with the after party starting at 9:30pm.
How much is at stake? What’s the prize money?
Dubai World Cup provides a global platform for the best horses in the world to compete every year. With that in mind, the prize pool up for grabs in pretty huge. This year sees a total pot of $30 million (Dhs110 million), with the overall winner of the main event, the Dubai World Cup race taking home $10 million.
Is there an after party?
Of course there is, and it’s one you won’t want to miss. The after-party at Soho Garden will take place from 9.30pm, while US rapper Flo Rida will take to the stage at WHITE from 11pm.
Soho Garden: Sat Mar 31, 9:30pm-3am. Grand Stand, Meydan Racecourse, www.sohogardendxb.com
WHITE Dubai: Dhs200 (advance, ladies), Dhs300 (advance, men), Dhs300 (on the door ladies), Dhs500 (on the door men). Sat Mar 31, 11pm-4am. WHITE Dubai, Meydan Grandstand, Al Meydan Road, www.whitedubai.com.
What will the weather be like?
Don’t fret, as Dubai is expecting to see complete sunshine for the whole day at the races. Expect perfect hat weather - sunny and breezy - with peaking temperatures of 35°C at noon, and the rest of the day ranging from 29°C - 33°C. At night, expect temperatures of 25°C – 29°C.