Every year on the last Saturday of March, Dubai grabs the attention of the international sporting community with its Dubai World Cup (DWC). Wondering what makes it so special and a head-turner? Fastest horses, finest equestrian facilities, and fab styles: here, we share some amazing information that makes the Dubai World Cup one of Dubai’s top bucket-list sporting events.

An Iconic Sporting Event

Displaying a whirlwind of royalty, rich heritage, and chunks of excitement, the Dubai World Cup is, without a doubt, the UAE’s most prestigious sporting event. While it’s ridiculously true that this event doesn’t have the longstanding traditions that match up to the Brits’ Royal Ascot, Louisville’s Kentucky Derby, or Australia’s much favored Melbourne Cup, it’s remarkably praiseworthy to know it still has managed to carve a niche for itself on the international horse-racing scene, being the world’s most valuable horse race with a mind-boggling spectrum of spectacles. The roaring success of this sporting event is largely attributed to HH Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s love for horses, and obviously, his visionary ideas to appropriately place Dubai on the global map.

Horse Race

A Brief History

Although Emiratis’ love for horses and camels has always been legendary, horseracing as a sporting event made its way to Dubai only in 1981, when it was conducted on the dusty camel track. 11 years later, the Dubai Racing Club was launched, which was soon followed by the opening of Nad Al Sheba Racecourse. The major challenge then was the limitations with regards to the number of horses that could be shipped in and out of the UAE. Undeterred, in March 1993, the new racecourse organized the Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge which actually led to the formation of the Dubai World Cup by HH Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of Dubai and the vice president of the UAE. Accordingly, the first world cup was held in 1996, with America’s super horse, Cigar, emerging as the winner. Since then, there has been no turning back, and this thoroughbred horse race has only gone from strength to strength.

When & Where

Conducted through the Emirates Racing Authority and sponsored by Emirates Airline, the Dubai World Cup is annually held on the last Saturday in March, and the upcoming race is on March 25, 2023. Speaking of the venue, it takes place at the imposing Meydan Racecourse and Grandstand, the flagship racecourse of the UAE. A part of Meydan City, it offers a stage that matches the sumptuousness of this event, aptly dubbed as the king’s sport. Besides an expansive grandstand that can hold up to 60000 spectators, this incredible facility of approximately eight million square meters is inclusive of a five-star hotel with 280 plus rooms, a nine-hole golf course, a museum and plenty of dining options.


Interesting Facts

As Dubai World Cup is all set to enter its 27th edition in 2023, here are a few interesting facts about this discerningly hosted horse racing event.

  • The Dubai World Cup prize money has increased from $4 million in 1996 to $12 million in 2023. It is not a wonder that this event is acknowledged as the world’s richest horse race.
  • Dubai World Cup night involves a total of nine races, and the total prize money comes to around $30.5 million. These cover eight thoroughbred contests and one purebred Arabian contest, such as the Dubai World Cup, Dubai Gold World Cup, Dubai Golden Shaheen, Dubai Sheema Classic, Dubai Turf, Dubai Kahalya Classic (Purebred Contest), Godolphin Mile, Al Quoz Sprint, and UAE Derby.
  • The overall length of this race is 2000 meters on the dirt track.
  • The race attracts the most competitive riders, the finest trainers, and horses of exceptional quality, including purebred Arabians, Anglo Arabs, and the thoroughbreds.
  • The horses must be at least four years to compete in the race.
  • In 2010, the venue of the Dubai World Cup was shifted from Nad Al Sheba Racecourse to the classy Meydan Racecourse.
  • Every year, more than 50,000 horse racing enthusiasts from all corners of the world descend on Dubai to be a part of this swanky sporting event.
  • Fabulous fashion and incredible musical performances form part of the event.
  • Dubai World Cup actually forms part of Dubai World Cup Carnival, with an array of racing events spread over three months. Featuring 10 meetings and offering a combined purse amount of $40 million, DWCC kicks starts on the first week of January and culminates on Dubai World Cup day in March.
  • Three weeks before the final race comes Super Saturday – the DWC’s official prep race

Know about Past Winners

  • Country Grammer, jockeyed by Frankie Dettori and trained by Bob Baffert, won the Dubai World Cup in 2022.
  • The US-bred horses hold the title of winning this World Cup for the maximum number of times. These include ten horses like Cigar, Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Electrocutionist, Curlin, Animal Kingdom, and California Chrome.
  • Dubai Millennium, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s most favored horse, won the cup in 2000.
  • As owners, the regal Maktoum family’s Godolphin Racing won the maximum number of Dubai World Cup.
  • The year 2011 saw the most touching race in the history of the Dubai World Cup, as Japan became the winner soon after the nation was dreadfully hit by the tsunami.
  • Except for Brazil’s Gloria de Campeao which won the cup in 2007 and Japan’s Victoire Pisa (2011), all winning horses have been bred in America or Europe.
  • When it comes to jockeys, America’s Jerry Bailey (1996, 1997, 2001, and 2002) and Italy’s Frankie Dettori (2000, 2003, 2006, and 2022) have the most number of wins to their names.

Dubai Horse Racing

A horse race with a difference: No Wagering but still chances to win whopping amounts

In contrast to most horse race world cups, the Dubai World Cup comes with the distinction that it doesn’t allow for on-track betting. As such, you’ll find no bookmakers onsite. It further indicates that you’ll be able to place bets only online and that too before entering the country. This is because the UAE is an Islamic nation where gambling is prohibited and considered illegal. But that doesn’t restrict your chances of winning grand prizes. Several competitions are held during the event, allowing you to walk away with whopping amounts. These include:

Pick 6: Conducted during a race meeting, it is free to enter and gives you the chance to guess a winner for the six races.

Triple Tri: This applies to the evening race program’s final three races. In this contest, you’ll get the opportunity to predict three winners in the exact order of two races in a row.

Superfacta: Giving away a cash prize of AED 5000 for the winner, this competition is all about exactly predicting the first four winners of the evening program’s final race.

Al Basti Equiworld Lucky Draw: All racegoers will get the chance to participate in this lucky draw. Simply collect your complimentary Al Basti Lucky Draw tickets at the entrance gate, fill in the exact details, and submit them to one of the designated boxes kept throughout the venue.

Fashion, Dress Code & Jaguar Style Stakes

Given the magnanimity and grandeur of this event, the DWC has over the years, become a highly esteemed event that both racing and fashion enthusiasts look forward to. Surely horses are the main highlight of the event, but what really makes the day incredibly fun-filled is classy fashion and superior style sense – so much so that even a special fashion event, namely, the Style Stakes, is conducted to pick the most stylishly dressed lady and man, the best creative hat, the best-dressed couple, the best creative outfit  etc.

So fashionistas, dress to impress and stand a chance to win amazing prizes. Men are recommended to wear a smart perfect-fit suit paired with a shirt, tie, and bright handkerchief. Alternatively, ladies can dress up modestly yet stylishly by opting for elegant maxis, tea dresses, or shift dresses teamed with the right accessories. However, make sure that you avoid jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc.

Ticket Information

There are several options to grab the best seats for your favorite sporting event. For a regular price of AED 295, Apron Views provides the best vantage point not only to spectacle the race but also to enjoy the special concert after the race. Furthermore, it’s the venue for the incredible Style Stakes.

For an amazing race viewing experience combined with the finest dining choices, you can book options including Sky Bubble – Iftar, the Premium, and the Gallery, with ticket prices ranging from AED 600 to AED 2200. If you’re accompanied by a group, the best option is to opt for the Terrace.

For a VIP viewing experience, you can opt for Paddock View, Dubai Lounge, or Royal Enclosure. All the above tickets are now available for sale at Rayna Tours and Travels.

Now if you’re under the impression that entry to this event could be afforded only by millionaires, elites, or celebrities, then you’re absolutely wrong; all you need to shell out for a general admission ticket is AED 20.

So what to look forward to in Dubai World Cup 2023?

The DWCC will begin on January 6, 2023. As always, this year’s DWC shall entice the racing community with amazing spectacles. About 150 horses from 16 countries will compete in the race.

What more to say? With grand arrangements all the way down, the Dubai World Cup 2023 is set to ensure that it will be as exciting and competitive as ever.

Images credit: jaguarcarsmena Dubai Racing Club

Rezmin is passionate about traveling and curating content about history, traditions and other intriguing aspects that make a place attractive. In her spare time, she enjoys reading fictional books sprinkled with inspiration, humor and enthusiasm.

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