Dubai World Cup
Thoroughbred horse racing is known for riches and opulence. In that respect, it is difficult to top the Dubai World Cup, held every March in the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The name "Dubai World Cup" can refer to the entire night of stakes races held on that evening at Meydan Racecourse or to the single race that culminates the evening with a stunning purse of $12 million.
Considering that many of the most famous stakes horse races in the world have existed for decades and even centuries, the Dubai World Cup had a lot of catching up to do in terms of capturing the imagination of racing fans. After all, the race was only held for the first time in 1996. But a combination of a big purse, an exotic setting, and outstanding racing competition has allowed the race to become a must-see for all racing fans.
Perhaps the best indicator of the race's bona fides is the caliber of competition in the race. Starting with the very first winner in 1996, Cigar, the race has generally been won by horses with amazing racing records. That's to be expected considering the giant purses at stake, not just for the actual Dubai World Cup race but also for all nine Group One and Group Two stakes races held during this racing extravaganza.
In addition to the interest generated by the Thoroughbred greatness on display, the race also garners superlative betting interest. The international fields for the Dubai World Cup are generally so star-studded that prohibitive favorites are rare. That means that online betting on the race, which must be done off-site due to Dubai's restrictions on wagering, allows for the possibilities of big payoffs on small wagers.
The Dubai World Cup wouldn't be in existence without the efforts of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sheikh Mohammed, who is now the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, parlayed an early interest in horse racing into great success in the sport as an owner and breeder. As the horses from his Godolphin Stables racked up major wins in Great Britain and then eventually stretched out to international achievements, he began to think of ways to bring a major horse racing event to his own backyard.
In 1992, the Dubai Racing Club was founded, and that same year, Nad Al Sheba Racecourse was built. That impressive facility proved that it was able to hold a large event, and so the first Dubai World Cup night was held in 1996. It featured nine stakes races and was immediately labeled the richest night in horse racing.
The event received an undoubted boost right off the bat by the participation of the American champion Cigar. Cigar, as part of his amazing 13-race winning streak, shipped to Dubai and captured the first Dubai World Cup race, which, at the time, carried a purse of $4 million. It proved that the event could indeed draw the best horses from all over the world to this unique location far away from the traditional hotbeds of Thoroughbred racing.
Just a year later, there was concern over whether or not the event would be held because of drenching rains in the Dubai area. But Sheikh Mohammed sensed that a break in the action might permanently stall the momentum of his nascent event. He ordered helicopters to fly over the track to dry it up quickly, and the races were held just a few days after the originally scheduled date.
In 2010, Nad Al Sheba was rebuilt as Meydan Racecourse, which has been the host site for the Dubai World Cup since that year. For the first five years, the Dubai World Cup was held on a synthetic surface known as Tapeta. In 2015, partly due to the concerns of top United States horses over the synthetic surfaces, Meydan switched to a dirt course, and that has been the surface for the World Cup since that time. The distance for the race is 2000 meters, or approximately a mile and a quarter.
In 2017, the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in Florida of the United States was created and featured a purse of $12 million. It surpassed the Dubai World Cup, which had risen to a $10 million purse, as the world's richest race. In 2018, it was announced that the purse of the Dubai race would rise to $12 million. (The Pegasus had risen to $16 million.)
However, participants must pay hefty sums to participate in the Pegasus World Cup, which is not the case for the Dubai race. In addition, the winner's share of the Dubai World Cup, currently $7.2 million, is still higher than any other race in the world.
Memorable Dubai World Cup Champions
As stated above, the dynamic performance of Cigar, ridden by jockey Jerry Bailey and trained by Bill Mott, set the tone for the caliber of Dubai World Cup winners. The following year, when the races were delayed by the rains, Bailey was at it again aboard winner Singspiel. Singspiel's win was also notable because it put the Dubai World Cup title in the hands of the man who created the race, as Sheikh Mohammed was the horse's owner.
A year later, Silver Charm became the first horse to double up as a winner of an American Triple Crown race and a Dubai World Cup Champion. Silver Charm had won the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and was denied the Triple Crown in a heartbreaking loss in the Belmont Stakes. He came back in 1998 to add the Dubai World Cup to his trophy case.
In 2004, Pleasantly Perfect, who had captured the Breeders' Cup Classic just a few months earlier, followed that up with a win in the Dubai World Cup. He was back the next year to try to make it two in a row but was denied by Roses In May. As a matter of fact, there still has not been a two-time Dubai World Cup winner in the 23 years of its existence.
Electrocutionist, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, won the World Cup in 2006, but in a tragic turn of events, died later that year due to a heart attack. In 2008, Curlin, who won both the Preakness Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Classic a year earlier, handled the field in the Dubai World Cup.
In 2009, the last World Cup contested at Nad Al Sheba, the late-blooming Well Armed, who did not race at age three, won the race by a record 14 lengths. And in 2013, Animal Kingdom came to Dubai almost two years after his Kentucky Derby win in 2011 for another huge victory.
Recent Dubai World Cup Winners
|2014||African Story||Silvestre de Sousa||The former turf racer won the World Cup at age seven as a 12-1 long shot|
|2015||Prince Bishop||William Buick||As an eight-year-old 14-1 shot, he beat a field that included defending champ Prince Bishop and American superstar California Chrome|
|2016||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||The 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner atoned for his loss in the World Cup the previous season|
|2017||Arrogate||Mike Smith||With wins in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup, he bagged the two richest races in the world in a matter of months|
|2018||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||He was previously known for his fractious behavior during the 2017 Kentucky Derby, but the Irish-bred horse atoned for that with a front-running romp in the World Cup|
The Dubai World Cup Experience
The Dubai World Cup might be a single race, but the race is really just a small part of some impressive festivities at the Meydan course every March. After all, it is one of only nine huge stakes races held that evening. The other stakes races on the schedule:
- Dubai Kahayla Classic
- Godolphin Mile
- UAE Derby
- Dubai Turf
- Dubai Golden Shaheen
- Dubai Sheema Classic
- Dubai Gold Cup
- Al Quoz Sprint
In addition to the racing, those who visit the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai World Cup are treated to an incredible spectacle. The Meydan Course is not just a race track. Included as part of the facility is a museum dedicated to the history of horse racing, a selection of elegant restaurants, and a five-star hotel facility.
The racing is the centerpiece of the action, but there is also a festive atmosphere that is embellished by excellent entertainment. It has become a tradition at the Dubai World Cup for a massive firework display to follow the action. A concert featuring some of the biggest acts in the music world also thrills the fans in attendance at the Dubai World Cup.
How to Bet on the Dubai World Cup
In most horse races around the world, fans can take part in wagering opportunities right at the track where the action takes place. This is not the case with the Dubai World Cup. Traditional wagering is not allowed in Dubai, meaning that fans at the event have to do their wagering elsewhere before the fact.
There is a Pick 6 competition for the fans at the event, but it's not the kind of wagering that fans might have come to expect. In this day and age, however, it's easy to work around this. The ever-growing number of horse racing betting sites is certainly available to those wishing to wager on this premier event.
Online betting on horses is extremely convenient for those who can't quite get to the track. In the case of the Dubai World Cup, it's useful even if you can get to the United Arab Emirates to watch. The popularity of the race makes it a shoo-in to be included on most reputable betting sites.
We've put together a list of sites that are reliable and well-established in the industry. They should offer excellent incentives to both first-time and regular bettors, solid customer service, and a trustworthy system of deposits and withdrawals.
Once you have chosen the site that hosts betting on the Dubai World Cup, it's just a matter of funding an account. Then you have to choose what kind of wager you wish to make on the race. There are that will likely be available to you.
Straight bets are ones that involve a single horse either finishing first (win), second (place), or third (show.) Exotic bets, on the other hand, involve multiple horses. An exotic bet can be as simple as picking the first two horses in the order of finish in the Dubai World Cup, known as an exacta, or it could be as involved as picking the winner of six races in a row (Pick 6).
In terms of betting opportunities, the Dubai World Cup can be an exciting race for gamblers because the field is usually stacked with an international field. Each of the horses tends to be a champion in his own region, lured to Dubai by the promise of the huge purses.
This means it might be difficult to choose a winner from all of the entrants in the race. But if you can, you are likely to come away with odds that can make even a straight bet a relatively lucrative one. The bottom line is that the Dubai World Cup is one of those races where you can rack up a big payday for a relatively small wager.