DUBAI // The 2009 Dubai World Cup meeting, on Saturday March 29, looks like being the most international to date with entries received from 27 countries. This year's world's richest race meeting, featuring the world's richest race, the US$6million (Dh22m) Dubai World Cup, will be staged at Nad Al Sheba for the last time with the Meydan racecourse, currently under construction, set to host it in 2010 when the big race will be worth "at least $10million", according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Almost 1,650 entries have been received for this year's meeting with the largest entry, 333, for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. A total of 263 horses have been nominated for the 10-furlong Dubai World Cup with the 1,644 entries containing 773 individual horses with many doubly entered at this free to enter stage. Leading the way are Asiatic Boy and Well Armed, second and third to Curlin in the 2008 World Cup and due to clash again this March in the 2009 renewal.
Asiatic Boy, who won the UAE Derby in 2007 and is trained by South African Mike De Kock who saddled Honour Devil to win last year's UAE Derby. No horse has won the double of the UAE Derby and World Cup so both will be seeking a piece of history. They look sure to face a serious challenge, however, from Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Albertus Maximus. Japan has 10 entries, headed by its top mare Daiwa Scarlet but, unsurprisingly, the UAE leads the way in terms of numbers with 143 of the 263 entered. Sixteen countries have runners entered.
"The Dubai Racing Club and the Dubai World Cup is committed to the era of international racing, and as we can see from the increased number of entries we have received, it proves that so too are the world's owners and trainers," said Frank Gabriel Jr, the CEO of the Dubai Racing Club. "Nad Al Sheba has been the home of the most international race meeting in the world and the Dubai World Cup meeting this year will be the perfect finale to this racecourse," he said.
There is a quality entry throughout the card with Viva Pataca and Doctor Dino, second and third in last year's Sheema Classic, over 12-furlongs on turf, looking set to clash again. But they will have a hard task to beat De Kock's Eagle Mountain. Jay Peg, also representing South Africa, will seek a repeat win in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free where De Kock's Archipenko, Australia's Weekend Hussler and Vodka, from Japan, will all be serious contenders as will Godolphin's new recruit Lady Marian and Jim Bolger's Lush Lashes.
The Americans have a phenomenal record in the other Group 1 Thoroughbred race, the Golden Shaheen over six furlongs on dirt, but five champion sprinters could clash this year - America's Indian Blessing, Europe's Marchand D'Or, Australia's Apache Cat, Japan's Sleepless Night and South Africa's J J The Jet Plane. firstname.lastname@example.org