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Mystic Guide, ridden by jockey Luis Saez and trained by Michael Stidham, won the 25th Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 27, 2021. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A total of $105 million have been awarded as cash prizes for horses winning the Dubai World Cup, the final race of Dubai World Cup night, since the world’s richest meeting was staged in 1996.

The annual event has placed the UAE on the international equestrian map as home to one of the world’s top racing challenges, drawing the attention of millions of enthusiasts around the globe. The meeting, which traditionally takes place on the last Saturday of March, is worth $30.5 million.

Gaining momentum

Since the inaugural meeting, the race has been gaining increasing momentum and popularity in the world of horse racing, drawing significant attention of the world greatest stables to the Middle East for hosting the prestigious $12 million Group 1 race for the first time outside the traditional, well known and exclusive horse racing host countries in Europe, America and East Asia.

The 1996 Dubai World Cup was held at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse on Wednesday, 27 March 1996. Cigar, a champion American thoroughbred, won the inaugural running of the Dubai World Cup, which carried a purse of $2.4 million.

In the second race, the cash prize valued at $1.88 million, and gradually grew to $7.2 million in the 25th running. The 2020 race had been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while Godolphin’s Mystic Guide won the $12 million Dubai World Cup last year.

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Jockey Jerry Bailey guided Allen E Paulson's Cigar to glory in the inaugural event at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 1996. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Meydan Racecourse is expected to be packed to the rafters on Dubai World Cup night 2022 as organisers prepare to welcome back capacity crowds for the spectacular 26th running of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, on March 26. It offers nine races, consisting of eight Thoroughbred contests and one Purebred Arabian contest.

From the time Cigar blew away his opposition at Nad Al Sheba at the inaugural meeting in 1996, the Dubai World Cup meeting has gone from strength to strength, delivering some of the finest races ever seen around the world.

Full capacity

While the highly prestigious $12 million race and its equally coveted undercard have attracted the very best from around the world over the years, the excitement is bound to amplify race day with a massive crowd expected to attend proceedings live at the 80,000-capacity venue. The organisation of this year’s Dubai World Cup further reinforces the city’s rising status as one of the globe’s leading venues for international sporting events.

Sheikh Rashid Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Racing Club, said: “We are so happy to have everyone back here for what will be a fantastic 26th running of the Dubai World Cup meeting. The atmosphere will be absolutely electrifying,” he said.

“The quality of the horses, trainers, owners and jockeys who have assembled is better than ever and we are looking forward to a superb day of racing with our guests from all over the world.

“I would like to thank our partners for their support and also the team at Dubai Racing Club, who have worked so hard to bring this meeting together.”