With more than $30 million on offer across nine races, the Dubai World Cup is the richest race meeting in the world. Five races take place on the dirt, four on the turf, and the climax of the day is the $10 million World Cup itself, which is run over 2000 metres and dates back to 1996 when it was won by the mighty Cigar.
Here in the UK, the action gets underway at 11.45 am and reaches a crescendo at 4.45 pm. Most of the major horse racing networks will be showing the races so check the television schedules with your local provider.
Let’s take a race-by-race look at the full Meydan card on Saturday afternoon.
11.45 Godolphin Mile 1m
Vying for favouritism is North America. He has won his last four races, culminating in an easy victory in a Group 3 at Meydan last month. He won a handicap off a rating of 86 and has now reached a current mark of 113.
His market rival and chief threat is Sharp Azteca. Jorge Navarro's runner followed a narrow defeat in a Santa Anita Grade 1 on Boxing Day with an impressive victory in a handicap at Gulfstream and sets the standard here.
12.15 Dubai Kahayla Classic (Arab Race) 1m 2f
Eric Lemartinel is double-handed with RB Burn and RB Dixie Burning as he eyes a second victory in Dubai Kahayla Classic, his last being back in 2008.
AF Mathmoon, winner of the race 12 months ago now runs under Al Raihe’s charge for the first time.
TM Thunder Struck narrowly missed out on winning this race last year and is looking to go one better this time around.
12.50 Dubai Gold Cup 2m
The 14 runners are headed by the first two home from 12 months ago – Vazirabad and Big Orange. The preference is for Vazirabad who had a prep race coming second, four weeks ago, in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 2810m.
Ed Dunlop’s Trip To Paris is too big a price to ignore and is worth an each-way interest.
1.25 UAE Derby 1m 1f
Not surprisingly, Godolphin is well represented and responsible for three runners, seemingly headed by Thunder Snow who along with Top Score and Fly At Dawn, will be seeking to give Saeed bin Suroor his eighth victory in the race but the first since 2011.
Mike de Kock who has won the race six times previously saddles Fawree who was unlucky to unseat in the stalls last time out.
2.00 Al Quoz Sprint 5f
Limato won the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket over 1,200 metres last season and struck again at the top level when stepping up to 1,400 metres in the Prix De La Foret at Chantilly. He could only finish sixth however in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Without question Henry Candy will have him ready for this race.
Ali Rashid Al Raihe appears to have the best chance of sending out a UAE-trained winner on Dubai World Cup night with his runner Ertijaal.
2.35 Dubai Golden Shaheen 6f
Jim Crowley is looking to ride Sheikh Hamdan’s dirt sprinter Muarrab more prominently on Saturday in order to regain the trophy they won together twelve months ago.
American sprinters have historically thrived in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, especially in the dirt years, and Mind Your Biscuits looks like a live contender for Chad Summers and Joel Rosario.
3.30 Dubai Turf 1m 1f
Richard Fahey’s Ribchester is well fancied to be able to cope with the extra furlong he will encounter in this race. Drawn in stall one the four-year-old will need to be on his metal to take this.
Alain Royer-Dupre’s well bred Zarak twice got within touching distance of Almanzor last summer and if he runs up to anywhere near that form then he looks the one to beat.
Deauville is a decent price at 14/1 given that he is a Belmont Derby winner and has Ryan Moore assistance.
4.05 Dubai Sheema Classic 1m 4f
Just seven runners go to post but what an competitive renewal it is. Postponed could become the first repeat winner of the $6 million Classic. He came up a neck shy of Godolphin’s Prize Money when returning on March 4th but he should strip fitter for that run and hopefully will get some better luck in running with a more forceful ride.
Jack Hobbs had an injury-plagued season last year but came back well at the backend of the European season.
Ryan Moore believes Highland Reel is a “hell of a price” at a general 9-2 to win the contest. Moore made all on the Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last summer and a similar run is expected on Saturday.
4.45 Dubai World Cup 1m 2f
Arrogate has been incredible since his Travers Stakes victory last year, when he set a stakes and track record, and he followed that up with Breeders Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup victories. A win here would give him victories in races with the first prize of of six, twelve, and ten million dollars. It appears Bob Baffert has another “horse of a lifetime” on his hands. Arrogate will certainly be going off a prohibitive odds so it may pay to look for some forecast and each-way value elasewhere.
Gold Dream won a Grade 1 at Tokyo last month and could outrun his odds under Joao Moreira.
Keen Ice has not won since the Travers in August 2015, but he keeps run into the places, notably in top quality races like the Breeders Cup Classic and the Pegasus and is the type to be running on late.
Mike De Kock’s Mubtaahij was unlucky to run into California Chrome in this race last year and he looks like running into one that is just too good again this time around. If Arrogate was to run below par then this is the horse that is most likely to pick up the pieces.