Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

The Dubai World Cup called off due to coronavirus pandemic

Organisers decide to postpone the event that was due to celebrate its 25th anniversary on Saturday

Godolphin’s Benbatl was set to start as favourite for the $12 million (Dh44m) race in Saturday's Dubai World Cup.. Antonie Robertson / The National
Godolphin’s Benbatl was set to start as favourite for the $12 million (Dh44m) race in Saturday's Dubai World Cup.. Antonie Robertson / The National

The 2020 Dubai World Cup has been called-off due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers said in a statement released on Sunday: “To safeguard the health of all participants, the higher organising committee of the Dubai World Cup 2020 has decided to postpone 25th edition of the global tournament to next year.”

The 25th anniversary of the meeting was due to take place at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Saturday.

Organisers had earlier announced the Dubai World Cup, one of the highlights of the racing calendar, will go ahead without paid hospitality spectators because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dubai World Cup is the world's richest race day with $35 million (Dh126m) prize fund across nine races consisting of six Group 1 prizes and three Group 2s. The highlight of the meeting is the $12m showpiece race.

While the second Dubai World Cup, in 1997, was rescheduled and staged eight days later after heavy rains left the racetrack under water, this will be the first time it has been cancelled outright.

Satish Seemar, who had five runners entered across three races at the meeting, said the correct decision had been made.

“We have to think about the whole world and not just Dubai,” the five-time UAE champion trainer told The National.

“It’s something which is not in anybody’s hands and it had to be done. I know there was a lot of hard work from every team, stables and the people behind the horses.

“In the back of our minds, we thought that this could happen. I think this is the right way to go. Nobody can do anything about it because the whole world is affected. It is unfortunate but the right thing to do.”

Aidan O’Brien had earlier indicated he will not travel for the Dubai World Cup because of the global travel concerns surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Ballydoyle trainer was to arrive with eight horses for the meeting, including the 2019 Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Fleeting and Mount Everest in the Group 1 Sheema Classic, the globe-trotting star mare Magic Wand and the dual-Group 1-winning miler Circus Maximus, both in the Dubai Turf.

“With such concerns over international travel we are really disappointed not to be able to go to the Dubai World Cup,” O’Brien told racingpost.com.

“We were really looking forward to the meeting and felt that we had a very strong team representing us this year.”

Many of the runners set to take part across the nine races were out having their routine exercise at the Meydan track every morning until the connections were informed on Sunday afternoon of the decision to cancel the meeting.

Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the three-time UAE champion trainer, insisted the decision to cancel the meeting was done in the best interest of the sport.

“Obviously we are all disappointed the Dubai World Cup will not take place this year but at the same time we can’t overlook the suffering the people around the world because of this the pandemic,” he said.

“It is a difficult time for everyone around the world. We can only pray and wish this difficult period will soon end.”

Meanwhile, the Emirates Racing Authority has called off the remainder of race meetings at Meydan (April 4 and 10), Al Ain (April 2 and 9) and Jebel Ali (April 3), including the Dubai Sale on April 11 and Horses in Training Sale on April 12.

The early conclusion of the season means Seemar wins his sixth UAE trainer’s championship title with 45 winners, nine more than six-time champion Doug Watson.

Tadhg O’Shea is now out on his own with a record eighth UAE champion jockey’s crown and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah win his third UAE owner’s title in four years.

Updated: March 22, 2020 07:47 PM

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