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Dubai World Cup field oozes class

No less than 34 horses who have won at horse racing’s highest level, in racing parlance, Group/ Grade 1 winners, have assembled at Meydan Racecourse



Midnight Bourbon is one of the top contenders for the $12 million Dubai World Cup. — AFP file
Midnight Bourbon is one of the top contenders for the $12 million Dubai World Cup. — AFP file

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 10:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 11:46 PM

Next Saturday’s 26th edition of the Dubai World Cup extravaganza has the potential to be one of the best renewals in recent years, if not ever.

And the figures speak for themselves.

No less than 34 horses who have won at horse racing’s highest level, in racing parlance, Group/ Grade 1 winners, have assembled at Meydan Racecourse to vie for a share of the $30.5 million prize money across nine glittering contests.

By any yardstick, this marks an incredibly high-quality of equine stars gathered under one roof and which adds meat to the argument that the Dubai World Cup meeting always aspired to be considered as the Olympic Games of horse racing.

And why not?

While each of the day’s nine races is run for a minimum purse of $1millon, every race is contested over a different distance, ranging from sprint contests to middle distance and staying races.

The highlight of the day, the $12million Dubai World Cup, has been won by some of the sport’s biggest names in the sport from Cigar in the inaugural year in 1996 through Silver Charm, Dubai Millennium, Arrogate and Thunder Snow.

And this year’s renewal has not surprisingly drawn the very best middle distance dirt runners led by American star Life Is Good.

He is likely to be joined by ten other dirt specialists ensuring that the field for Saturday’s showpiece will feature 11 high-quality equine athletes.

Among them are Grade 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie, who has been based in Dubai since January for Doug O’Neill and who captured the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in his most recent start at Meydan; Bob Baffert’s Grade 1 winner Country Grammer, and the Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon, who were second and third, respectively, in the G1 Saudi Cup on February 26.

Also in the international lineup is G1 Premio Latinoamericano winner and twice Uruguayan champion Aero Trem, who is trained by Antonio Cintra, while the second-and third-place finishers in the 2021 Dubai World Cup have returned to give it another shot.

Chuwa Wizard from Japan and Magny Cours, trained in France by Andre Fabre for Godolphin was not disgraced when they finished behind the winner Mystic Guide.

Meanwhile, Saeed bin Suroor, the all-time leading trainer in the Dubai World Cup with nine winners, will be represented by multiple European group stakes winner Real World, who captured the G2 Zabeel Mile on the Meydan turf in January.

In addition, there are two UAE-based runners, the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Hypothetical and Bhupat Seemar’s Remorse, who finished first and second in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 last time out.

UK raiders are somewhat of a rarity in the race, given the fact that it is run on dirt and not turf. A surface which is more like their cup of tea, with the William Haggas-trained Grocer Jack flying the flag for the country.

“We are delighted with the strength of the entries for the 26th Dubai World Cup meeting,” said Major General Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, general manager of Dubai Racing Club. “We have strength and depth across all nine races with an impressive 32 Grade/Group 1 winners set to compete, and it’s wonderful to have so many different countries represented.

“We are also extremely happy to be able to welcome back a capacity crowd for the first time since 2019 and we hope that everyone will enjoy a superb evening of racing.”

A super evening and one which has the potential to culminate in an enthralling battle for supremacy in the Dubai World Cup.

Life Is Good is the horse touted as the one they will all have to beat but as we have known in the past nothing is certain in the sport of horse racing, with several factors coming into play during the pulsating contest.

Months, weeks, and hours of preparation come down to just two minutes of excellence by both horse and rider.

And with a winner’s purse of $7.2 million at stake, there is no margin of error, as even the smallest of margins have separated the victors from the vanquished.


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