Horseracing began in the Emirate in October 1981, when the dusty Camel Track hosted the first thoroughbred race meeting. Three races were run – a sprint, a mile and a mile and a half, organised by the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Approximately 10 years later, in early 1992 the Dubai Racing Club was established under the chairmanship of Colonel Ali Khamis Al Jafleh, a UAE Air Force commander. March 1992 came the official opening at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, where the highlight was the appearance of some of horseracing’s biggest stars at the time – jockeys Lester Piggott & Willie Carson.
A year later, March 1993, with limitations to the free movement of horses shipping in and out of the UAE, the Dubai Racing Club selected a second best option, jockeys. On March 26 that year, Nad Al Sheba hosted the inaugural Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge (DIJC). Five groups of two jockeys were invited to compete, with senior riders representing USA, Europe, Australia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
The DIJC would eventually pave the road for the creation of the Dubai World Cup (DWC). The first DWC was held in 1996 and thrust both Nad Al Sheba and the UAE onto the global stage as American ‘wonder horse’ Cigar, claimed the inaugural running. Fittingly, in the event’s 14 running in 2009, another American brilliantly bookmarked the Dubai World Cup ending chapter at Nad Al Sheba, when Well Armed registered a 14-length resounding success, a record-winning distance.
In 2010 the Dubai World Cup helped introduce the iconic Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse to the racing and sports world. The architectural masterpiece is the new home for the Dubai World Cup and is the world’s largest integrated racing facility, with a seating capacity for over 60,000 and adjoining 285 elegantly appointed rooms and suites of The Meydan Hotel.
The excitement of the first Dubai World Cup hosted at Meydan was equaled on the track as Gloria de Campeão emerged the winner in an exciting three horse finish to become the event’s first Brazilian champion. A year later, 2011, the DWC had another first as Victoire Pisa and Transcend gave Japan their first 1 – 2 finish in the coveted race.
Today, in addition to the world’s richest day in racing, there are essentially two seasons: the Winter and Spring Meets and the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
The Dubai Racing Club (DRC) recognises global talent from all corners of the world. An equal-opportunity employer, DRC is home to a team of international staff with diverse nationalities and skill sets and we are committed to creating new standards in horse racing, not only in UAE but for the world.