The £12 million Dubai World Cup was introduced by Sheikh Mohammed in 1996 and is currently the richest horse race in the world. It is the feature race of Meydan’s World Cup Night with prize in excess of £30 million over the nine-race card. The dirt race regularly attracts some of the top horses from America with famous past winners including Cigar, California Chrome and Arrogate. Godolphin have won it a record eight times, notably with Dubai Millennium in 2000.
The Group 1 Dubai World Cup is over ten furlongs on dirt and is for four-year-olds and upwards. It takes place on the final weekend in March at Meydan Racecourse. Meydan was built on the existing Nad Al Sheba racecourse site and opened in 2010. As this is a dirt race and comes early in the year, it is rare for a European-trained runner to target the prize.
Famous Dubai World Cup Winners & History
The Dubai Racing Club was established in 1992 with Nad Al Sheba Racecourse hosting the inaugural Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge the following year. The event proved a great success and the Dubai World Cup was launched in 1996. American champion Cigar provided a spectacular opening night, then the leading money winner in Thoroughbred racing history.
He was ridden by Jerry Bailey who repeated his success the following year on Sir Michael Stoute’s Singspiel. Sheikh Mohammed’s dream was to win his own race for Godolphin and his ambitions were fulfilled in 2000 by Dubai Millennium. He had been defeated in the Epsom Derby the previous season but established himself as a true champion, winning in a new record time under Frankie Dettori.
The famous blue silks of Godolphin have gone on to win the race on a further seven occasions, including the first dual winner in Thunder Snow (2018 and 2019). He also suffered disappointment earlier in his career when refusing to race in the Kentucky Derby. Thunder Snow was retired to stud in November 2019 having amassed over £12.5 million in prize money.
The International appeal of the Dubai World Cup is illustrated by 2010 winner Gloria de Campeão, a Brazilian-bred horse trained in France. Japan won the race for the first time in 2011 with Victoire Pisa, seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe the previous season. The USA often provide the favourite here and have maintained a strong presence throughout the history of the race.
The race temporarily lost its status as the world’s richest horse race to the Pegasus World Cup. Prize money for that event surpassed the Dubai World Cup in 2017 and 2018 but the Pegasus was split into dirt and turf races in 2019. The 2020 Dubai World Cup was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Key Dubai World Cup Trials
The key trials for the Dubai World Cup take place on Super Saturday in early March. The course and distance Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge was the prep run for Thunder Snow for both of his victories, finishing runner-up in 2018 and 2019. The Breeders’ Cup Classic from the previous November is often the source of the best form on show here. Cigar, Invasor, Curlin and Arrogate won both races.
Dubai World Cup Betting Trends
Only one clear favourite and one joint-favourite have been successful in the last ten renewals of the Dubai World Cup. Market leaders won four consecutive times from 2005 to 2008 but the next four winners averaged 14-1. Monterosso returned at 20-1 in 2012 with Gloria de Campeão winning at 16-1 in 2001.
Curlin (4-11) in 2008 and Arrogate (1-3) in 2017 were heavy odds-on favourites to oblige. Arrogate was hampered at the start of the race but made smooth progress to pass his thirteen rivals and beat Gun Runner by two and a quarter lengths. Dual winner Thunder Snow was an 8-1 shot in 2018 and started 4-1 when repeating his victory in 2019.
Dubai World Cup Stats
A recent run is usually required to win here with the last ten winners all having raced within the previous two months. All had been successful at either Group 1 or Group 2 level and all bar one had winning form over ten furlongs. Thunder Snow was officially rated 119 in 2019, the lowest winning rating during the last decade. The highest rated winner was Arrogate (2017) on 131.
Four and five year olds have the best recent record, although their domination was interrupted by Godolphin’s 2014 and 2015 winners. African Story won as a seven-year-old and Prince Bishop was a year older. Seven of the last ten winners had previous winning form at Meydan.
Top Trainers and Jockeys
There has been an even spread of winners between horses trained in the USA and the UAE. Singspiel (1997) remains the only winner trained in the UK while there have also been successes for France (Gloria de Campeão) and Japan (Victoire Pisa).
Saeed bin Suroor has a phenomenal record in the race with 9 winners, all bar Almutawakel (1999) and Prince Bishop (2015) owned by Godolphin. Jerry Bailey is the leading jockey in the history of the Dubai World Cup with four winners, including inaugural winner Cigar (1996).
Betting on the Dubai World Cup
Dubai World Cup Night attracts plenty of betting interest in the UK with a host of familiar names racing at Meydan. Ante-post betting on the Dubai World Cup is available as soon as the entries are announced. The running plans of the leading contenders are published in the racing press. 888sport offered new customers 5-1 Arrogate (returned 1-3) to a £10 stake in 2017 so it is worth keeping an eye on those special offers.
The Dubai World Cup in late March is firmly established as one of the top International races of the year. American-trained horses have a great record with superstars Cigar, California Chrome and Arrogate all having won this race. Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin are always strongly represented and the race whets the appetite for the top Group 1 action in Europe in the months ahead.