Think horses and Dubai and one is automatically transported to
the Dubai World Cup. Such is the magnetism and charm of the
world’s richest horse race. Due credit ought to be given to the
long list of winners, the legends that have put the World Cup on
the international stage. And to think that no horse has ever won
this race more than once since its first running way back in
1996. There’s Dubai Millennium, Cigar, Singspiel, Captain Steve,
Pleasantly Perfect, Electrocutionist, Invasor and last year’s
winner Curlin. Dubai Millennium belongs to folklore for setting
the fastest time on 1:59.50 when it won in 2000.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the
Winner's Circle with jockey Alan Garcia and Regal Ransom.
Salsa (Lafranco Dettori) wins the Godolphin Mile,
sponsored by Etisalat at the 2009 Dubai World Cup at Nad
Al Sheba Racecourse.
Anthem (Ahmed Ajtebi) wins the Dubai Sheema Classic,
sponsored by Nakheel at the 2009 Dubai World Cup at Nad
Al Sheba Racecourse
(Ahmed Ajtebi) wins the Dubai Duty Free sponsored by
Dubai Duty Free at the 20098 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al
owner Prince Sultan Mohd Saud Al Kabeer leads Big City
Man into the Winners Circle with trainer Jerry Barton.
There are the individual stars such as jockey Jerry Bailey, who
has maximum four wins (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002), Saeed Bin
Suroor who has picked up five of the past 12 wins (in 1999,
2000, 2002, 2003 and 2006) and the Dubai-based Godolphin Racing
that has won the crown on four occasions (in 2000, 2002, 2003
The race is operated through the Emirates Horse Racing
Authority, whose chairman is Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
Minister of Presidential Affairs of the UAE. But ultimately, it
is teamwork and the vision under the leadership of His Highness
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime
Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai that has led to the World
Cup becoming the diamond in the crown of racing the world over.
It is this vision that saw the Dubai World Cup broadcast live on
TVG Network and HRTV and taped later for showing on ABC. It was
also the first time ever that the race was shown on national TV
in the USA. No doubt, it has always been the endeavour of the
organisers to have the strongest field of horses from across the
globe, and part of the move has been the attractive prize purse
of $6 million for the Group One flat race. And possibly, the one
consolation for horse owners from the two hemispheres is that
the Northern Hemisphere owners can field four-year-old
thoroughbreds and the Southern Hemisphere can bring in
three-year-olds upwards for the 10-furlong dirt race.
No one can disagree with the tremendous contribution made by
Godolphin Racing, the worldwide operation that takes its name
from the Godolphin Arabian. Godolphin Racing – based in Dubai
and Newmarket in the UK – had its full year of operation in
With Sheikh Mohammed the driving force, Godolphin has taken the
concept of thoroughbred racing to a completely different level.
The concept is so simple, yet so fruitful as seen by the success
of this operation. Horses are wintered at its Al Quoz base in
Dubai and then sent each April to their base in Newmarket for
the demanding European racing season.
Leading the way for the worldwide operation was Balanchine when
she became the first horse to capture a Group One victory for
Godolphin when she triumphed in the Epsom Oaks and subsequently
an epic win against the colts in the Irish Derby in 1994. That
was the spark of inspiration that allowed Godolphin to walk into
the record books when it won Group One races in five different
countries; Lammtarra walking tall with wins at the Epsom Derby
followed by wins in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Diamond Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Over the years the operation has kept on improving on its
stature and the accomplishments and wins have followed. The
scale of Godolphin’s global adventure was an abiding memory of
2002 when the stable embarked on a worldwide campaign that would
culminate in Group One triumphs in eight different countries. It
all started in Dubai where Street Cry, Marienbard, Grandera and
Imperial Gesture all made an impression with Street Cry taking
the Dubai World Cup. Marienbard evolved into a destructive
galloper, whose best was the win at the Prix de l’Arc de
Triomphe. Grandera traversed the globe, running in Dubai, Hong
Kong, Singapore, England, Ireland and Australia in a campaign
that brought forward the core of the Godolphin philosophy of a
global outlook. Grandera’s best performance came in winning the
Irish Champions Stakes.
Godolphin crossed a major milestone in 2003 when Sulamani won
the 100th Group One race at the Arlington Million with its
jockey Frankie Dettori on board. Till date, Godolphin has had
more than 500 individual runners, which have brought home an
amazing 190 winners for the operation. Godolphin has won
numerous awards since its inception, the latest one being a
finalist for the prestigious Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner
last year.Godolphin and Dubai are so closely inter-woven.
Each tries to project the other, and both come out tops in
achieving the goals of a city that thrives being the best in all
spheres; but in this case the world of horse racing. In the
lines of the poet “there are miles to go” before Dubai stays at
the top of the horse racing world.