Video: Dubai World Cup - the world's richest horse race explained

Thu 11 Apr 2019 09:48 AM GST
ABTV's Shruthi Nair explains all about the world's richest day of horse racing that was held last weekend with $35million prize purse on offer. But do you really know the significance of horse racing in the region?

Here’s a quick timeline for you:

  • 1981 – is the year when horse racing officially started as a sporting event but on dusty camel tracks
  • 1992 – Dubai Racing Club was launched and Nad AL Sheba Racecourse was opened
  • 1993 - Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge was organised
  • 1996 – The first world cup was held

It has always been the world’s richest race with a prize money that started at $4million in 1996 reaching $35million this year.

Why is it so popular, you may ask?

To begin with, Dubai’s rule HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum is a massive fan of the sport and has vowed to place Dubai on the global map. In fact, Horse racing is considered to be a local sport – be it in the UK, US or Australia. It was the Dubai World Cup that changed this drastically.

Investment on passion – that’s a thing here, guys.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but people (with the riches) in Dubai invest heavily on the things they are passionate about like art, vintage cars, antiques and the likes.

But there’s a catch. Exclusive ownership of the whole animal is expensive, so investors are looking to purchase a horse as part of a syndicate where ownership is broken down into shares and the shares held individually.

What’s the ROI?

Well, these horse races for one. And then there are stud fees. For those who don’t know, it’s a price paid by the owner of a female animal to the owner of a male animal for the right to breed to it. If your horse attains legendary status, he could command more than $1 million in stud fees alone.

But again, maintaining a horse is not cheap. Running expenses include training, boarding stabling, insurance, vet’s bills, jockey and trainers fees, etc. can well make a hole in your pocket.

So what happened in the race that was held this year?

Dubai Racing Club received 1,440 nominations for 739 horses from 20 countries for this year’s World Cup. Dubai’s 5 year old Thunder Snow won the evening big race for the 2nd consecutive year. The race was followed by an entertainment show headlined by US singer Gwen Stefani.

Traditionally, Dubai’s wealthy have cherry-picked the world’s top horses at sales abroad. Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the UAE’s prime minister, was the biggest purchaser in an auction of two-year-old thoroughbreds last month at Europe’s largest auctioneer, Tattersalls of Britain.

But the industry is also supporting the development of home-grown businesses within the UAE. Several studs in the UAE breed pure Arabian horses and has been showing results. That’s what happened with four of Godolphins- Dubai’s ruling family’s privately owned stable - horses this year.

(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)