The eyes of the racing world will be on Meydan on Saturday as 14 runners go to post for the 2021 Dubai World Cup, attempting to add their name to the prestigious list of winners. It’s a welcome return for the race after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID pandemic and it’s back with a bang for the 25th time and a staggering prize purse of $12 million.
Looking to add their name to the winners list this year is the current favourite, Mystic Guide, who is trained in the US by Mike Stidham. Mystic Guide arrives here on the back of victory at Oaklawn last month and has been given an ideal draw in stall 6 in what looks a wide-open race.
The Dubai World Cup may now be the second richest race in the world, after the Saudi Cup, but it also ranks as one of the most hotly contested races on the calendar and past winners have included some of the greats of flat racing. We take a look back at three of the best ever Dubai World Cup winners below as benchmarks for one of the season’s top races.
3 best Dubai World Cup winners
One of the legends of the sport, Cigar, initially flopped on turf before switching to dirt – a move that saw him become one of the most successful horses of all time.
Cigar won 16 races on the bounce, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1995 and several top-grade dirt races in the US. He arrived in Dubai on the back of 12 straight wins and connections were targeting the inaugural Dubai World Cup with its winners prize of $4 million – the world’s richest horse race at the time.
Top-class horses rarely travelled so far back then but the air miles caused Cigar no issues and he put in a battling display to see off Soul of the Matter up the straight to take the first Dubai World Cup. Cigar was retired at the end of 1996 having won almost $10 million in prize money and cementing his place as a legend of the track, as well as one of the greatest winners of the Dubai World Cup.
Dubai Millennium (2000)
The year 2000 showed that dreams can come true as Dubai Millennium added his name to the Dubai World Cup winners list at the dawn of the new millennium.
Owned by Godolphin, Dubai Millennium won his first three races, recording impressive victories at Yarmouth, Doncaster, and Goodwood, before heading to the Epsom Derby. Sent off the 5/1 favourite at Epsom, he put in a poor performance finishing 9th of 16 runners in what would be his only career defeat.
He bounced back from that Epsom disappointment with Group 2 and Group 1 victories in France before landing the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. All roads then led to Dubai and his date with destiny, and he didn’t disappoint – running out a six-length winner of the Dubai World Cup and clocking a record time for the race that stands to this day.
Ridden to success by Frankie Dettori, he lists Dubai Millennium as the best as he’s ever ridden and it’s easy to see why.
Arrogate arrived in Dubai on the back of a six-race winning run which included the Travers, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the Pegasus World Cup.
Sent off the 1/3 favourite, any chance of Arrogate adding his name to the list of Dubai World Cup winners seemed lost as he was slow out the stall and then faced serious traffic issues.
Passing the winning post for the first time, Arrogate was the last of 14 but jockey Mike Smith didn’t panic and ultimately produced one of the greatest ever Dubai World Cup rides.
He made progress down the back straight before kicking for home down the stretch to pass US rival Gun Runner and land the Dubai World Cup and its $6 million in prize money.
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