Dubai World Cup
Where: Mayden Racecourse, Dubai
When: The Dubai World Cup takes place on March 29th, 2014
The Group I Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates, stands alone at the summit of international horse racing. As horse racing entered a new era with the changeover of centuries, it was the Dubai World Cup, inaugurated in 1996, that paved the way forward.
With the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East, in general, hosting what is now the centerpiece of international racing and recognized as the thoroughbred "World Championship" the Dubai World Cup represents the wheel turning the full circle. Every thoroughbred in the world today descends from the three Arabian stallions exported from this part of the world - the Darley Arabian, the Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian.
Dubai World Cup Funded by Generous Royals
By JIM KRANE
Associated Press Writer
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- If anyone knows how much it costs to stage Saturday's lavish Dubai World Cup horse race, they're not saying.
The world's richest race hands out $15.25 million in prize money alone, and costs millions more to organize, including flying in horses from Japan, the United States, South Africa and Europe.
But the Nad Al Sheba racetrack -- and the United Arab Emirates -- doesn't allow betting, so there is little income to offset the millions laid out to hold the one-day, once-a-year spectacle.
Even entry and parking is free, allowing poor immigrant families to mingle among the world's wealthy racing aficionados who've jetted in for the glamorous event.
Sponsors' fees and broadcast rights recoup a portion of the costs, but most are simply paid for from the pockets of Dubai's royal family, the Maktoums. The family, incidentally, owns the powerful Dubai-based Godolphin stable, with several horses running on the day's seven-race card.
"It's basically a tool to promote Dubai," said Matt Howard, spokesman for the Dubai Racing Club.
With the race expected to reach one billion households, the Maktoum family stands to reap its dividends by pitching this beachfront sheikdom as one of the world's hottest luxury destinations.
They might also use the race to showcase Dubai as one of the earth's most cosmopolitan cities.
The crowd milling in Nad Al Sheba's grandstands, clubhouses and on the lawns covered the gamut of nationalities, adorned in their finest ethnic costumes, enforced by strict dress codes demanding tasteful clothing.
Emirati men in long white dishdasha robes strolled with women in black head-to-toe chadors and copper-colored facial masks. Pakistani men in skullcaps decorated in glittering cut glass consulted their racing forms, alongside Indian women in bright, billowing saris.
Westerners in sharp suits and dresses, with audacious hats, thronged at a food pavilion, quaffing champagne and watching fashion shows.
At the other end of the grandstand, Somali men in skullcaps and white robes knelt in prayer, foreheads pressed to the grass.
Beyond the track, with a backdrop of Dubai's glimmering modern skyscrapers, camel trainers could be seen walking their prize beasts amid the sand dunes. Camels also race at Nad Al Sheba, in another age-old tradition among Arabs.