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Top 10 richest horse races in the world

With a purse of US $10-million, how does the Dubai World Cup fair with other races?

Image Credit: GN Archive
The Dubai World Cup makes our top 10 list of the world's richest races, but where does it slot in?

With the Dubai World Cup taking place this weekend, Dubai is in something of a horse racing frenzy. Now in its 20th running, and with a purse of US $10-million, Guides looks around the world to see how Dubai’s most prestigious racing event compares with other high-stakes races around the world.

Races appear in descending numerical order.

10. The Grand National – Dh5.5-million purse

The Grand National is one of the oldest and most prestigious race meetings in the world, and a highlight on the British sporting calendar. First running in 1839, the 4-mile 3 ½ furlong (7.1km) handicap steeplechase traditionally runs at Aintree. With a purse of £1-million (Dh5.5-million), it is the tenth richest race in the world.

9. Kentucky Derby – Dh7.4-million purse

Known as the “quickest two minutes in sport”, the USA’s Kentucky Derby is held annually in the first week of May. A Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, the race first ran in 1875. It runs over 1 ½ miles (2.4km) – the same as the Epsom Derby, on which the race is based – on a dirt surface. The purse is set at US $2-million (Dh7.45-million).

8. Breeders Cup Sprint – Dh7.45-million purse

Running on dirt for six furlongs, the Breeders Cup Sprint is one of the newer race meetings to make our list. Held annually at a different course in North America since 1984, the meeting is for Grade 1 thoroughbreds aged three and over. With a purse of just over US $2-million (Dh7.45-million), it is in eighth place on our list.

7. Breeders Cup Distaff – Dh7.45-million purse

The Breeders Cup Distaff is the sister race of the Breeders Cup Sprint. It too started in 1984 and has travelled around North America each year. This race, however, is a Weight-for-Age race for thoroughbred fillies and mares aged three and over. Running on dirt for nine furlongs (1.8km), the purse is set at just over US $2-million (Dh7.45-million).

6. Breeders Cup Turf – Dh11-million purse

Another entry from the Breeders series makes our top 10; the Breeders Cup Turf is a race for three-year-old thoroughbreds on turf. The race runs over 11 furlongs (2.2km) and is held annually on a different track in North America. Sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the purse is set at US $3-million (Dh11-million).

5. Breeders Cup Classic – Dh18.3-million purse

The Breeders Cup Classic is the fourth Breeder’s series race that makes our top 10 list. This prestigious meeting – like the others – began in 1984 and travels around North America annually. Running over 1 ¼ miles (2km) on dirt, the race features Grade 1 thoroughbreds who are three-years-old and over. With a purse of US $5-million (Dh18.3million), it’s fifth on our list.

4. Dubai Duty-Free Stakes – Dh18.3-million purse

Originally known as the Dubai Turf, the Dubai Duty Free Stakes runs at the Meydan Racecourse on the night of the Dubai World Cup. Running for 1 mile, 1 furlong (1.8km) on a flat turf course, the race is for four-year-old thoroughbreds. The purse is set at $US 5-million (Dh18.3million) and sits proudly as the fourth richest horse race in the world.

3. Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe – Dh19.8-million purse

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is a Grade 1 flat race for three-year-old thoroughbreds. The race traces its history back to 1863, and is traditionally run at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October. The pomp and circumstance surrounding this 1 ½ mile (2.4km) flat race, not to mention to class of runner, makes it Europe’s most prestigious horse race. It is the third richest race in the world with a purse of €4.9-million (Dh19.8-million).

2. Melbourne Cup – Dh20.8-million purse

The Melbourne Cup is the richest turf race in the world, albeit only the second richest race overall. The race first ran back in 1861 at a distance of two miles (3.2km). This handicap race features three-year-old thoroughbreds and a purse of AUS $7.15-million (Dh20.8-millon). It’s a highlight on the Australian sporting calendar.

1. Dubai World Cup – Dh36.73-million purse

At number one, the richest horse race meeting in the world takes place right here: the Dubai World Cup. Running on the last Saturday in March annually, the meeting first ran in 1996 has run at the Meydan Racecourse in Nad Al Sheba since 2010. It’s a Group 1 flat race on a dirt course over a distance of 10 furlongs (2km). The DWC is the richest race in the world, with a purse of US $10-million (Dh36.73million). It is Dubai, after all.

You can learn more about the Dubai World Cup by reading our guide here.


Will you be watching the Dubai World Cup?