Dubai World Cup

 The Dubai World Cup takes place at the Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is a heady combination of money and top quality racing which captures the attention of those passionate about international racing. This event is known to draw in racing talent from around the world, making for a truly unmissable event.

The Dubai World Cup started in 1996 though thoroughbred racing has taken place on the course since 1981. At the time Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was the vice president and prime minister of the U.A.E and had organised three thoroughbred races that included a camel track for a sprint, a mile contest and a one and a half mile race. The Dubai Racing club was formed in 1992 after which the Dubai International Jockeys challenge was held – in which riders from the like of Europe, Australia, Japan, United States, and of course the U.A.E participated.

The first Dubai World Cup in 1996 was run over a 2000meter dirt track with a purse of $4 million . American horse of the year Cigar, who had won 13 consecutive races, was flown over to take part, and won the event putting it on the map in the process.

The Dubai World Cup was one of the richest race last year, surpassed only by the newly constituted Pegasus world cup in the United States. The world cup card is likely to remain one of big money race days in the world history, this year with 30 million dollars in purses across nine group of races. Other events include two group 1 grass races, Dubai Sheema Classic, and the Dubai Turf which are worth 6 million dollars.

The Dubai World Cup this year consisted of ten potential competitors of which half of them were based in the United States. The charge has been led by two champions in the event who are the colt West coast and the mare Forever Unbridled. There are other notable names like the Talismanic who has been trained in France to compete in the World Cup.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor is noted for his success in the race, with 8 wins to date. No horse has won the event more than once.

Preakness Stakes

 A Triple Crown race, this American flat race is held annually at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, situated in Maryland, US. The Preakness Stakes is a Grade I race run on a dirt course over a distance of 9.5 furlongs. It takes place every year, sandwiched inbetween the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes (two weeks prior and after these two other Triple Crown races). The Preakness Stakes race is referred to as the run for the ‘Black Eyed Susans’ due to the custom of laying a blanket of yellow flowers which resembles Maryland’s state flower onto the winner of the event.

The idea for the race came to the forefront two years after the first running of Kentucky Derby during the spring meeting in 1873. The event had taken its name from the Maryland governor Oden Bowie who wanted to honour the Dinner Party Stakes winner colt Preakness. The Preakness Stakes saw the first running in the year 1873 after which the 143th race occurred in May 2018.

After Preakness won the Dinner Party Satkes, a bag of gold coins hanging from a wire that stretched across the track was untied by his jockey.  This was for a time thought to be the birth of the custom of handing over the prize money to the winner popularly known as a ‘purse’, though this is contested by many. It’s also thought to be the origin of the wire / tape across the finish line at some racing events.

Forming the second leg in the Triple Crown series, the Preakness Stakes is one of the major attractions of racing for those wanting to make a name for themselves, or even stake a claim to the Triple Crown itself by winning all three races, a rare feat achieved only 13 times in the last 100 years. The Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes run on courses at a distance of 9.5 furlongs, 10 furlongs, and 12 furlongs respectively. The events have been tinkered with over the years in order to make them fit together is perfect fashion and make for a triple dose of top class racing.

Grand National

 The Grand National takes place in April of each year as part of the Grand National Meeting at Aintree, Liverpool. It’s a national hunt race held over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards and open to highly rated horses aged seven and above. The course has 30 gruelling fences over two laps, including notorious hurdles such as Canal Turn, The Chair and Becher’s Brook.

If you asked 100 people to name a race that generates excitement with the general public, the vast proportion of those would say The Grand National. They’d be right of course, as it’s the one racing event that even those not racing minded like to get involved with. Office sweepstakes galore  spring up due to the Grand National and it’s an event that gets people tuning in year on year. Viewing figures are routinely 8 – 10 million in the UK alone, and a staggering 600 million plus worldwide. That speaks to the universal appeal of this competitive race. very few sports events can match such numbers.

The very first Grand National took place in 1839, and came about due to the Great St. Albans Chase not being renewed , which had often clashed with Aintree races. That and a railway line arriving in Liverpool finally allowing for easy travel, made for a perfect confluence of events.

The prize pot for the Aintree Grand National steeplechase is a cool £1,000,000 with over half of that put aside for the winner. As you can likely appreciate, both the prize money as well as the unrivalled reputation of the race itself result in a coming together of the very best racing talent in the country.

With an event this competitive and with such longevity, the Grand National has a thousand stories to tell, and no doubt plenty more to come. Back in the 1960’s, Foinavon was a surprise winner at 100-1 on account of the freak incident of a loose horse hampering most of the field. In the 70’s we saw Red Rum, (who had passed through numerous owners initially, as he was seen as ‘nothing special’) become the only horse to win the race three times, all memorable wins too, especially his first in 1973 where he had to give it his all to overtake champion horse Crisp on the final straight. Trainer Ginger McCain made a stunning return to form decades later when Hedhehunter went on to win the 2005 race. Every decade of the Grand National offers a new narrative.

To throw a few interesting Grand National facts into the mix, the oldest ever jockey was Dick Saunders at 48 in 1982, and the youngest 17 year old Brice Hobbs in 1938. The fewest horses to finish was just 2 back in the 1928 Grand National, and the most rides without a win goes to none other than Richard Johnson with 20 attempts between 1997 and 2016.

Big winners of the Grand National include Mon Mome in 2009 at 100-1 and Auroras Ensore in 2013 at 66-1. The 2018 winner was Tiger Roll ridden by Davy Russell and trained by George Elliott. His SP was 10-1 and he went into the lead two from home, fending off a tough challenge by 25-1 shot Pleasant Company. The race was decided by photo finish.

Ascot Gold Cup

 Often deemed the most prestigious event for Stayers (horses best suited to running over long distances), the Ascot Gold Cup is a held each year at Ascot racecourse over a distance of 2m 3f 210 yards. The race takes place in June of each year as part of the Royal Ascot meeting and four year old horses and above are eligable to enter the race.

Inaugurated in 1807 there is clearly a wealth of history attached to this routinely competitive Group one affair.

As has been stated, this event is seen as central to long distance racing, and it forms part of Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown, along with the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup

The winner of the very first Ascot Gold Cup in 1807 was Master Jackey winning 100 guineas (don’t spend it all at once!). King George III and Queen Charlotte attended the event. In 1844 Nicholas I of Russia attended the race, so there is a real royal flair to proceedings during this period.

With an event with such history, a trend is bucked in that the most successful ever horse at the event occured relatively recently. Not only that but it was done in style, as Irish thoroughbred Yeats was the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, a feat not achieved before or since. Leading jockey at the event is Lester Piggott with 11 wins between 1957 and 1982.

The 2018 winner of the Gold Cup was 7/4 joint favourite Stradivarius ridden by Frankie Dettori and trained by John Gosden. The purse for the race was a cool £500,000 with £283,550 going to the winner.