Dubai World Cup: Racing surface, participating countries, prize money; all you need to know

Here’s what you need to know about the 2022 running of the iconic race on Saturday, March 26

AFP file
AFP file

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

Published: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 10:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 1:08 AM

Every last Saturday in the month of March the world’s sporting attention turns to Dubai where the iconic Meydan Racecourse, plays host to the Dubai World Cup, arguably one of the most prestigious and coveted races in the sport of horse racing.

While Australia’s Melbourne Cup ‘stops the nation’, the Dubai World Cup captivates a global audience.

Last year, horses from more than a dozen countries competed in nine top-class races, including six Group 1 contests, at Meydan Racecourse, in what is billed as the world’s most spectacular race day.

The feature race was the $12 (Dh44.08) million Dubai World Cup, which has been sponsored by Emirates Airline since 1996 and was won by American-trained Mystic River.

The Dubai Racing Club appointed distribution and production company Racecourse Media Group (RMG), which teamed up with leading networks to broadcast the event to the Americas, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Far East, Africa, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

If that’s not global, then what is.

The 26th edition of the Dubai World Cup will take place on Saturday, March 26, and it is set to be another incredible event with total prize money over $30.5 (112.03) million, a $5 (Dh18.37) million increase from last year's event.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2022 running of the iconic race on Saturday, March 26, 2022 and some frequently asked questions about going racing at Meydan Racecourse.

On what surface is the Dubai World Cup run

The race was born to be run on dirt, the favoured surface that was first used for horse racing in the UAE.

Dirt remains the most common type of track used in many jurisdictions and particularly in the United States. Dirt is more affordable than any artificial surface and even more affordable than maintaining a grass surface.

Meydan Racecourse, which featured a synthetic surface called Tapeta, when it opened in 2010, has switched to a traditional dirt track. Although it also houses an outer turf trace, the Dubai World Cup takes place on the dirt surface.

In addition, Meydan also has a 2,400-metre turf track, on which several of the main supports races on the Dubai Cup card are held.

However, the term “dirt track” is a bit of a misnomer: The material that racehorses warm to much more than mere soil, but a blend of material.

To the untrained eye, the dirt track looks like sand. Dig deep and you will discover that it consists of a blend of sand, clay, and silt.

How many countries participate each year?

Any horseman, jockey, or trainer wants to compete at the Dubai World Cup, which in many ways can be compared to athletes who dream of participating in the Olympics.

There are nine races on the card all of which are run over a variety of distances from short-distance sprints (1,000 metres), to middle distance (2,000m) and to long-distance (3,200m) contests. So, there is something for every kind of horse. The options are also available for turf horses like the ones that compete in most European racecourses.

Since Meydan offers dual racing surfaces horses from every jurisdiction in the world travel to Dubai each year to compete over the distance they are bred or trained to race on.

What is the value of the prize money for the Dubai World Cup?

The race first offered a total purse of US$4 (Dh14.69) million with the winner pocketing a cool $2.4 (8.82) million. Horses placed second to sixth also received a share of the purse, from $400,000 (Dh1,469,2400) going to the second-placed horse and $90,000 (Dh330,5800) to the sixth finisher.

In 1999 the prize money was increased to $5 (18.37) million and to $6 (Dh22.04) million a year later. Then in 1999, the organizers announced that it would be doubled to $12 (44.08) million, making it the richest race in the world, a status it would enjoy until 2020 when the Saudi Cup came into existence with a staggering purse of $20 (Dh73.46) million.

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