Race to glory
Saddle up for Dubai World Cup, one of the grandest spectacles on the emirate’s action-packed sporting and social calendar
On March 30, more than 60,000 spectators will gather at Meydan Racecourse for the world’s richest day of horse racing. First held in 1996, Dubai World Cup has transformed into a major international event, not only attracting the finest thoroughbreds and equestrian enthusiasts, but also a stylish trackside crowd who are eager to revel in the electrifying atmosphere. The culmination of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which runs across 10 weeks from early January to the last Saturday in March, Dubai World Cup will see top-calibre horses from across the globe descend on Dubai to compete for a staggering prize fund of US$35 million.
Throughout the day, there are nine group races, but it is the final race of the card that has become the most prestigious. Carrying a purse of US$12 million, the Group 1 Dubai World Cup is the richest horse race in the world. Won by the now Hall of Fame thoroughbred Cigar in its inaugural running, the race has become so competitive that no horse has ever triumphed on more than one occasion in the 23-year history of the hotly-contested sprint. Even the highest earning thoroughbred of all time, California Chrome, was only able to triumph on one occasion, storming to victory in 2016, one year after being surprisingly beaten by Prince Bishop. In fact, each year, the Dubai World Cup becomes that much tougher as the leading owners, trainers and jockeys all vie to be part of the action. However, there has been plenty of success over the years for Godolphin racing, the horse racing stable owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Godolphin stable has recorded seven victories in the prestigious race, including last year when Thunder Snow shocked the racing world with a conclusive victory by more than five lengths. This was a huge surprise as American hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert’s West Coast was the firm favourite heading into the meet. While the Dubai World Cup may culminate in its namesake race, throughout the meet there is an exciting schedule of races, including the Dubai Gold Cup, UAE Derby and the Dubai Sheema Classic, which has a sizeable prize fund of US$6 million up for grabs. Aside from all the action on the track, there is also an incredible hospitality offering within Meydan Racecourse’s impressive mile-long grandstand. From private terraces with unbeatable views of the track to premium lounges where guests can savour meals and beverages, there is ample opportunity for those looking to enjoy the meet in five-star luxury.
The First Class Lounge and Falcon Suite are also exclusive venues that offer fabulous views of the track, while the Premium area in the grandstand is perfectly positioned opposite the finish line and boasts a variety of food and beverage kiosks. There are also some great options for those seeking a closer look at the runners and riders ahead of the races. The Breakfast with the Stars package is staged on Meydan Racecourse’s Apron during morning track-work and features a lavish breakfast buffet, live commentary and interviews with trainers and jockeys. Similarly, the Winner’s Circle Restaurant provides guests access to the Parade Ring Lawns, allowing them to get a close-up view of the horses that have emerged victorious. Of course, like all great meets around the world, the revelry off the track is as much of a draw as the races themselves. And at Dubai World Cup, the fashion stakes are high with an annual Style Stakes competition awarding prizes to the trendiest racegoers, including Best Dressed Couple and Most Creative Hat.
A prime opportunity for ladies to don extraordinary frocks and dapper gents to turn heads in their best suits, there is always plenty of sartorial flair on show both trackside and in the grandstands. “I started planning my Meydan Style Stakes outfit almost 12 months in advance,” said Alla Dimech, who was crowned Best Dressed Lady at the 2018 Dubai World Cup. “I knew it would have to be something extraordinary, different and very unique. My inspiration came from the desert; its breathtaking lines of the sand dunes and the colours of gold, tan and dull-green. I was also inspired by ancient Arabian history and the traditional Arabian costume. I knew that I had to make something special to represent myself, but also to respect the tradition and culture of the UAE.“In terms of my top tips for 2019; my advice is to be different, adventurous and think outside of the box.
Elegance and class will never go out of fashion, so do not worry if you are not the most adventurous in trying new shapes and colours. You can still create the wow factor with accessories to express your own style and individuality.”With some of the finest thoroughbreds in the world competing for millions of dollars in front of an ultra stylish crowd, the eyes of the racing world will be firmly set on Dubai World Cup. So on March 30, Meydan Racecourse will undoubtedly be the place to be and be seen.