The Dubai World Cup isn’t as famous or well-established as other horse races, but don’t let that fool you. In true Dubai spirit, this race, first held in 1996, is home to big money and big ambition.
The Meydan Racecourse is world-famous for its extravagance and unapologetic opulence. Take a dash of luxury and mix it with one of the most exciting sports on Earth, and you have the recipe for something special.
On the last Saturday of every March, the Dubai World Cup is held at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. More than 60,000 fans attend each year, as it’s one of the hottest tickets in town, quite literally, giving the sweltering United Arab Emirates heat.
Many acknowledge the Dubai World Cup as the richest horse race in the world. The revelry and extravagance of the event are nearly as famous as the race itself. This fanfare frequently makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the throngs of fans who inevitably pay big money to attend.
With substantial cash winnings riding on the line, expect the Dubai World Cup to become one of your favorite events in the years to come. To help you get the most out of the UAE’s premier horse race, our guide will provide all of the information you need to make the best bets when the time comes to watch the big races.
Are you ready to jump headfirst into the Dubai World Cup? If so, it’s time to read on and discover what this race is all about.
The Dubai World Cup is fast, thrilling and certainly not afraid to put on a show. To get the absolute maximum out of Dubai’s crown jewel, you’ll need to play the ponies and back your favorite horse.
There are several ways to bet on the race, so take your pick.
Horse betting is nearly as old as horse racing itself and dates back thousands of years to the first horse races in Central Asia. Horse betting is also a multibillion-dollar industry that is enjoyed by fans in nearly every country.
Nearly all states across the US have at least one racetrack where you can gamble. Naturally, each track competes for your money and attention. Thankfully, the days of betting taking place exclusively at the track are over.
Thanks to the internet, people have many more options to choose from than ever before. Betting online is now where you are going to find the best odds and markets. So, next time you fancy a flutter, make sure you head online.
If you talk to a teller, make sure you know how to place your bet correctly. After all, this process is not always the easiest for novice punters to master.
Specify the racetrack that you are at, followed by the race number. Specify how much you are betting, and the horse’s program number.
If you don’t specify these details, the teller will remind you to do so.
Typically, the teller will assume that you’re placing a traditional bet if you don’t specify.
If you decide to place a quinella bet (exotic pool), then be sure to specify that it’s a quinella bet. You’ll be asked to name the number of horses you’re betting on, which determines the kind of quinella bet.
Once you get your ticket, keep it in a secure place, perhaps your wallet or your shirt’s front pocket. You’ll need to have it on you when you claim your winnings.
Remember, no ticket means no winnings should your horse or horses win.
Off-track betting (OTB) facilities allow you to spectate the races in a safe and, in Dubai’s case, air-conditioned location away from the racetrack.
OTBs are ideal for bettors who cannot attend the racetrack in-person or can’t gamble online. The sites are sometimes regulated differently than on-track betting locations. Therefore, be sure to check your local laws.
Think of an off-track betting site as a one-stop-shop for all your horse race betting needs.
At least that’s the idea anyway. Off-track facilities are a great way to watch and bet upon races from around the world, including the Dubai World Cup, without having to linger in the hot sun all day.
Yes, largely thanks to the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978.
Horse betting isn’t illegal at the federal level, thanks to this law. States are free to decide their laws, though. Therefore, make sure your state allows online horse betting before you start wagering on the Dubai World Cup. However, most states let you wager on horse bets online, so the chances are that you’ll have no issue placing your bets.
If horse racing is not legal in your state, don’t panic just yet. Simply check to see whether that applies to racetracks, OTB sites or online gambling. These methods are not all treated the same in the eyes of the law. If your state bans gambling on horse races altogether, though, you’ll need to leave your state to place bets, unfortunately.
The good news is that betting on international races is legal provided they’re regulated and licensed. Even people living in states where online gambling is prohibited can still join in on the fun providing that they wager in another state.
Just because you can’t bet on horse racing in your particular state at a base level, there’s no need to worry. There are always options at hand to help you wager on significant races like the Dubai World Cup.
Typically, gamblers will place either a win, place or show wager. These are the core betting options when it comes to betting on any race, not just the Dubai World Cup.
A win bet requires your horse to finish first.
A place bet is more lenient, requiring a first- or second-place finish.
The show wager is even more relaxed, paying out if the horse finishes third or better. Maybe even in a lower position, should you find a more lenient online bookmaker.
As you can imagine, show and place aren’t where you win the big bucks, unless you have a considerable bankroll behind you. If you want to score a life-changing, bank-busting payday, you’ll want to cast your lots with the exotic pools, commonly referred to as quinellas.
Exotic pools require you to specify the first two, three, four or five finishing horses in the correct order.
Exacta betting require you to specify the first two horses in the order in which they win. You need three for a trifecta, four for a superfecta and five for a super high five. These typically possess long odds and give massive payouts if you win.
As you can see, there are many ways to bet on the Dubai World Cup. Those with an appetite for risk and a big payday need to sidestep the usual place, show or win bets for something a little loftier.
Superfecta bets are a popular pick at the Dubai World Cup due to the card on the day and preceding days. Ramping up the odds, it’s not the easiest bet to place, but here’s a simple example to help you get started.
The easy way to place this type of bet on the Dubai World Cup is through a straight superfecta. This wager is of a combination of four first-place finishers.
For example, you would need to walk up to the teller and say, “$5 superfecta on 1-2-3-4” and detail your horse picks alongside the race number.
Online, select your four winners and highlight the superfecta option and you’re good to go.
Nothing adds to the thrill of the Dubai World Cup like a loaded superfecta, so don’t ignore this popular bet type.
It might surprise you, but in the UAE, gambling is entirely illegal due to Islamic prohibition on gambling.
In spite of the thousands of attendees each year, the UAE strictly prohibits its citizens from betting on races.
However, they wisely allow foreigners to gamble on races, recognizing that the throngs of people who come to Dubai every year and spend a ton of money doing so. If you are not a citizen of the UAE, you’re free to place bets on whichever horses you want.
We’ve provided a helpful list of all the horses that are likely favorites versus ones that are more of a longshot:
Eleven of the previous 23 winners have been from the UAE. The next-best country to far has been the US, winning a whopping nine titles. Their victory was particularly famous in 1996 when Cigar won the first-ever Dubai World Cup.
There is a debate that the 2017 champion Arrogate also qualifies as American. The horse is owned by a Saudi Arabian but was foaled and fully trained in the US.
In addition to America and the UAE, Brazil and Japan have also won one title each. There haven’t been any British or Canadian winners at the Dubai World Cup as of yet.
Interestingly, no mare or filly has ever managed to win. The closest any female horse has come to winning was in 2001, where To The Victory came in second place, narrowly losing out to Captain Steve.
The full list of Dubai World Cup champions is below:
The racing season in Dubai begins in January. Therefore, from the very first furlong, the horse racing calendar builds up to the Dubai World Cup.
Countless events and races take place between March and January, with race performances being monitored to see who nationally and internationally will make the cut for the starting gate.
Given the limited field for the race, the road to the Dubai World Cup can be rough, with some serious cuts taking place, no more so than on Super Saturday.
Super Saturday takes place on the first Saturday of March at Meydan Racecourse. The meeting features various chances for horses to rubberstamp their ticket to the Dubai World Cup. Consider it a dress rehearsal for the big day. With seven races taking place, all of which feature horses that will be looking to qualify for the richest race in horse racing.
The Dubai World Cup is exclusively for thoroughbred horses, similar to many other prestigious horse races.
It is run at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE. The track itself is 1,750 meters long and has been in use in its current form since 2014, before which it featured a synthetic track from 2010-13. The reason for the change is that American horses had difficulty competing on the unfamiliar terrain. Dirt, however, gives the track a much more traditional running feel and experience.
In fact, prior to 2014, the track was routinely complained about, as the controversial synthetic track had a below-par reputation from the day it was first used. The Dubai World Cup is a Group Three race but changed to a Group Two race starting in 2014. This rating shows that the global prestige of the event is improving year-on-year.
If you want to watch the Dubai World Cup in the US, your best bet is to watch it on NBC Sports.
This channel is typically one of the best options to watch horse races anywhere in the US. You can even watch the qualifiers on it. NBC Sports is typically available as part of most cable contracts, but you can also view it through streaming services online or through the NBC mobile app. At home or on the go, NBC can put you in touch of the Dubai World Cup, even if it can’t rival being there in person.
Are you based outside of the US? Maybe you’re in Canada or the UK? Given how popular streaming services have become over the last 10 years or so, your best bet is probably going to be the internet. A lot of people have cut the cord and gone straight to streaming, and more and more companies are happy to meet their demands.
TVG, Racing TV and more are some of the streaming services that you can use to satisfy all of your horse race-related needs. You can’t gamble through them, but you can watch the races wherever they occur.
On top of that, some bookmakers will provide streaming coverage of the race if you have made a qualifying bet.
Many parts of the world have long traditions of horse racing, but that was not the case with Dubai. The once sparsely populated segment of the Arabian Peninsula did not have its first horse race until 1981. That’s when the city’s humble dirt camel track hosted its first thoroughbred race.
The Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was the prime minister and vice president of the UAE at the time, helped to organize the first races. These races consisted of a sprint, a mile, and a mile-and-a-half. The launch of horse racing in the UAE was slow, though, and would remain mostly uninspired in the region during the 1980s. Growth and development, however, would kickstart at the turn of the decade.
Horse racing would receive little attention until March 1992 when the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse was formally opened. This was preceded shortly by the founding of the Dubai Racing Club earlier that year, spearheaded by Colonel Ali Khamis Al Jafleh.
The first horse race held at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse was a smashing success. It was also attended by some of the biggest race stars of the day. These included sporting legends like Willie Carson and Lester Piggott.
One year later, due to restrictions on importing horses at the time, the Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge (DIJC) was inaugurated in March 1993. A total of five regions and countries were represented: US, Australia, Europe, Japan and the UAE.
The DIJC would quickly lead to the development of the Dubai World Cup. This became inevitable after it became apparent that there was an increasing interest in horse racing in the fast-growing country.
The initial Dubai World Cup got off to a fast start in 1996. The American stallion Cigar subsequently won the championship and catapulted Dubai as the next major horse racing destination. The Dubai World Cup would increase in prominence further over the next decade.
In 2009, the event then truly broke into the mainstream, when another American victory was clinched on the last race held at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse by the stallion Well Armed. The 14-length distance was the longest on record at the racetrack and served as an appropriately explosive finish.
In 2010, the next Dubai World Cup was held at the Meydan Grandstand & Racecourse. This facility is designed to hold 60,000 fans, reflecting the massive surge in interest in the sport over the last 14 years.
The Meydan Hotel offers 285 world-class suites to rich guests from all around the world. These did not go to waste when Brazilian jockey Gloria de Campeão finished first to become the first South American champion of the Dubai World Cup.
Since then, America and the UAE have seen continued victories, and Japan managed to win once since then. Dozens of other countries around the world hope for a chance to finish first in one of the world’s most prestigious horse races each year.
There are some seriously big-time events in the horse racing sphere, with most occurring in the US and the UK. Being honest, the Dubai World Cup isn’t quite on that level yet in terms of prestige. But it’s no less than inches away and is expected to get bigger and bigger every year. In fact, it is projected to be one of the world’s biggest horse races in the coming years. Maybe sooner, if the event organizers can keep the level of momentum up and continue to make historical moments.
The beginning of the Dubai World Cup Carnival begins in January. This culminates in the Dubai World Cup taking place on the last Saturday in March. The next race occurs on Saturday March 28, 2020.
The Dubai World Cup is somewhat smaller than other comparable horse races, boasting no more than 16 horses (achieved once in its history). That was in 2014 when horse African Story beat the odds to clinch victory.
The Dubai World Cup is famed for its extravagance when compared to other internationally known horse races. The total purse sizes across all races is a colossal $35 million. The six Group One and three Group Two races split $22 million of the purse.
Meanwhile, the Dubai World Cup itself boasts the remaining $12 million as its prize pool. Naturally, the bulk of that will go to the winner, making the jockey and the associated team instant millionaires.
The Dubai World Cup is a Group One flat race that’s for thoroughbreds 4 years and older (Northern Hemisphere-based) and thoroughbreds 3 years and older (Southern Hemisphere-based). It’s run over a 2,000 meter, 10-furlong distance. So expect this race to serve up a few minutes of fury every time.
Post time for the Dubai World Cup is 12:40 p.m. EST. Therefore, make sure you have your coffee and sandwich prepped, as this race is a perfect lunchtime filler.
No filly has ever managed to win the Dubai World Cup. However, a mare has managed to finish as the runner-up in 2001. That year, To The Finish, managed to finish right behind Captain Steve. Future victories by mares can’t be ruled out, especially given the Cup’s short history. Still, it looks like stallions are running the show right now.
If you want to get the best deal, you’ll want to purchase your tickets online.
You can buy tickets for Apron Views for just Dh 350 (approximately $100). If you want to get better seats near the finish line, the premium tickets will run you Dh 1,900 (about $520).
The Gallery, which is located just after the finish line, is Dh 1,400 (approximately $380).
If you manage to score a general admission pass, which costs Dh 20 (roughly $5), you can sit around the grandstand for what equates for small change.
The Dubai World Cup is held over the same distance as the Kentucky Derby (1.25 miles). In other words, races typically last about two minutes.
The Dubai World Cup, being a relative newcomer, has had many track and location changes in its 23-year history. There are a total of three time-records recognized.
The fastest of them was in 2000 when Dubai Millennium managed a time of 1:59.50 on the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
The fastest time on the Meydan was recorded in 2014 when African Story managed a time of 2:01.61 on the synthetic surface.
When the track was changed to dirt in the following years, the best time on that track was 2:10.38, achieved by Thunder Snow in 2018.