Dubai is a city which has grown at a rapid rate over the last 20 years, and is now a truly cosmopolitan hub which welcomes nationalities from all over the world for both business and leisure purposes. Its status as one of the Middle East’s premier locations may be one of the reasons Dubai has built a heritage in horse racing and in this guide we will look at the main elements of the sport in the city.
You can’t talk about racing in Dubai without mentioning the Meydan Racecourse and that’s partly because you just can’t miss it! The grandstand alone can accommodate 60,000 spectators, making it the largest single structure of its kind in the world. Meydan Racecourse is by far the most important horse racing venue in Dubai and it hosts the vast majority of any horse racing events of note held in the city. With its nine-hole golf course, conference centre, gallery, museum and five star hotel, Meydan is more than just a racecourse and a far cry from the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse which it replaced.
Dubai Horse Racing World Cup
On the last Saturday in March each year, the horse racing world fixes its focus on the Dubai World Cup. This thoroughbred contest has been in existence since 1996, and is as much a social event at which to see and be seen, as it is a sporting spectacular, similar to the social lure of other iconic horse racing events. Nine races are usually run and the huge purse it offers guarantees a fair share of reputed runners and rider from all over the globe. The Dubai World Cup race itself offers a purse of at least $10 million and is a flat Group 1 race for thoroughbred four-year olds and up. For some years it was held on a Tapeta all weather surface, but then changed back to being run on dirt again in 2015, partly in order to appease American competitors. Broadcast around the world, the climax to the event often features a performance from well known pop stars such as Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue, giving it that ‘Super Bowl’ feel.
Dubai Turf is another race held during the Dubai World Cup Night in March which attracts a lot of attention. The $5 million prize pot makes it one of the richest races in the world, a fact also shown by the fine array of leading jockeys and trainers from all over the globe who have got involved with the event over the years.
Dubai Horse Racing Jockeys
While the Emiratis native to Dubai are known for their participation in horse racing in the city, this is usually as a trainer or owner, rather than in the saddle. There are however a number of jockeys who have raced in Dubai over the years and can call the city one of their most successful destinations. Among them are Frankie Dettori and Jerry Bailey, men who have won the main Dubai World Cup race several times, as well as Gary Stevens and Gary Moore, who have both won the Dubai World Cup’s Dubai Turf race twice.
Dubai Horse Racing Trainers
With no less than seven Dubai World Cup wins under his belt, Saeed bin Suroor is undoubtedly one of the best Dubai born trainers. His resume reads as a glittering list of wins at iconic events around the world, including the UK’s Ascot World Cup, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and St Leger, France’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Ireland’s 2,000 Guineas, as well as the USA’s Breeder’s Cup and Arlington Million.
Another highly successful trainer within the Godolphin stable is Mahmood Al Zarooni, who although much less experienced than his colleague Saeed bin Suroor, has already made his mark with a Dubai World Cup win. It came in 2012 when Monterosso was riden to victory by Mickael Barzalona. He also has wins to his name in the UK’s St Leger and Germany’s Deutsches Derby.
Dubai Horse Racing Betting Providers
In the UK, odds on the big Dubai races including the Dubai World Cup and Dubai Turf are widely available with the big betting providers, including Betfair and Racebets. The time difference to the UK – with night races in Dubai taking place in the afternoon UK time – works out conveniently for both betting providers and their punters, meaning races can be watched and enjoyed at a sociable hour. Interest in Dubai horse racing is sufficiently high to be the subject of articles from tipsters, so make sure you catch up on the latest form before the big races.