Dubai World Cup on top among five-star ranking events
Dubai World Cup night is off Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The 25th running of the $35 million Dubai World Cup meeting which was scheduled to be held this Saturday has been cancelled, it was officially confirmed on Sunday afternoon. The landmark 25th anniversary celebrations have been postponed until next year.

Saeed Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board & CEO of Meydan Group LLC, said in a statement: “Due to the ongoing global health implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and precautionary measures being implemented by the UAE government, the organising committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the Dubai World Cup 2020 meeting at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, March 28.”

However, the difficult decision is in line with the cancellation of almost all sports events around the world keeping in mind the health and safety of all.

Saeed Bin Surour, Godolphin’s nine-time Dubai World Cup-winning handler told Gulf News: “Obviously this is very disappointing news, but it’s the right decision as the safety of all concerned is of great importance.

“These are very difficult times and my thoughts are with everyone, not just the racing community, but everyone living in the UAE and also all those who are under the threat of the coronavirus around the world.

“You can rest assured that our leaders and our government are united in their commitment to deal with the situation positively in order to make our country safe as possible for everyone.”

ERA official Yasir Mabrouk, who has been part of the Dubai World Cup journey since its inception in 1996, agreed with the cancellation of the event despite this being its 25th anniversary.

“It is hugely disappointing news for the horse racing community, but the proliferation of the COVID-19 remains unchecked,” he said.

“The UAE government has always put public safety and health before anything else and its reassuring that the decision to call-off the Dubai World Cup is an assurance that the safety and welfare of trainers, jockeys, owners, stable staff and racing officials are a priority.

“Having been a part of the racing fabric of the UAE for over 25 years I feel sorry for a lot of people who have worked hard for months and months, preparing for March 28, the silver jubilee. But this is something that we have to accept as it is beyond everyone’s control.”

It was announced only last week that the event would be held without paid hospitality spectators but in a highly regulated fashion while the official post-position draw had been scheduled to be held at the Emirates Racing Association offices on Monday morning.

The Dubai World Cup meeting, which was first held in 1996, comprises nine races worth a cumulative purse of $35 million.

The event’s signature race is the Dubai World Cup, the world’s second richest horse race after the $20 million Saudi Cup, with a stake of $12 million.

Godolphin, the Dubai-owned stable have had the most success in the Dubai World Cup with eight victories.