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.
Winning owner His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the Winner's Circle with jockey Alan Garcia and Regal Ransom.

Two Step Salsa (Lafranco Dettori) wins the Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat at the 2009 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
Eastern Anthem (Ahmed Ajtebi) wins the Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by Nakheel at the 2009 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Gladiatorus (Ahmed Ajtebi) wins the Dubai Duty Free sponsored by Dubai Duty Free at the 20098 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
Winning 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 and 2006).

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 1994.
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.

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