Dubai World Cup Carnival officially gets under way on Thursday
January 10. With more than US$37 million (Dhs136 million) at stake over a three-month period, it’s the big-money part of the UAE racing season. Running until the Super Saturday meeting on Saturday March 9,
the carnival is a showcase of the world’s most prized thoroughbreds, conditioned by renowned trainers and ridden by the best jockeys. It’s also an opportunity for racing’s biggest international players to prepare their horses for the chance to compete in the world’s richest day of racing, and one of the city’s biggest days out, the Dubai World Cup. On the day, there is US$27 million (Dhs99 million) up for grabs in nine different contests, with the grand finale Group 1 race prize totalling US$10 million (Dhs37 million).
Last season there was cause for much celebration among the home Godolphin team, owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai: young French jockey Mickael Barzalona powered Godolphin’s five-year-old bay Monterosso to victory in the Dubai World Cup. It was the first time Goldolphin had claimed the big race since Electrocutionist took the title under Frankie Dettori in 2006. Dettori will be notable by his absence this year – he’s currently serving a six-month ban handed down by the French racing authorities after testing positive for a prohibited substance. Even without the pint-sized Italian, you can still expect plenty of star power throughout the season.
Ones to watch
Keep an eye out for South African super-mare Igugu, a four-time Grade 1 winner for trainer Mike de Kock. De Kock is one of the most successful trainers in the history of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, and rates his latest track star as ‘world class’. Igugu will contest the fillies’ and mares’ races, including the Cape Verdi and the Balanchine, before a Super Saturday run.
Elsewhere, Singapore-based Australian trainer Steve Burridge exploded onto the Dubai scene last season, claiming a respectable four winners from 11 runs. He is back this season with a string of seven that includes last season’s stars Captain Obvious and El Pedrino, as well as new blood in the shape of Shuttle Man and Freezmaster.
Krypton Factor, the winner of last year’s Group 1 US$2 million (Dhs7.3 million) Dubai Golden Shaheen, is back and is preparing to defend his title. His trainer, Bahraini handler Fawzi Nass, is keeping him ticking over and is set to give the horse his first race of the new season in February.
Group 1: the highest category of horse race. In Group 1, 2 and 3 races, all horses run with equal weights.
Colt: a male horse aged under four.
Filly: a female horse aged under four.
Gelding: a castrated male horse.
Rating: the handicap rating given to each horse. As a general rule, the better the horse, the higher the rating and more weight it carries in a handicap race.
Back straight: the far side of the racecourse.
Home straight: the part of the racecourse nearest the stand.
Paddock/parade ring: the area where horses are paraded for the public, and where jockeys receive pre-race instructions from the trainer.
Post time: the time that the horses are scheduled to leave the starting gates for each race.
Dubai World Cup Carnival fixtures: Thursday January 10, 17 and 24; Thursday February 7, 14, 21 and 28; Saturday March 2. Gates open 5pm, post time 6.30pm.
Super Saturday: Saturday March 9. Gates open 3pm, post time 4.30pm.
Dubai World Cup: Saturday March 30. Gates open noon, post time 4.30pm.
Admission for race meetings starts from Dhs25. Dining options available. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (04 327 2100).
More equestrian options
Want to learn more about horses? Try these local activities…
Get an introduction to horsemanship and learn how to understand the language of horses, how they behave in a herd and as individuals, and why they react the way they do.
From Dhs170 per person. Hooftbeatz, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Al Qudra Road (050 181 0401).
Ride out around the sandy dunes of Mushrif Park during a guided tour, or take a lesson in the paddock.
From Dhs300 for desert rides. Mushrif Equestrian & Polo Club, Mushrif Park, Al Khawaneej Road (04 257 1256).
Go behind the scenes at Godolphin stables to see how these thoroughbred horses are kept. The tour also includes a look around the jockeys’ locker room, lounge, parade ring and saddling enclosure, and starts off with a breakfast buffet at Farriers restaurant.
Dhs250 adults, Dhs150 children. 8am-11am Sun, Tue and Wed until March 20. Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba (04 381 3405).