Four things to look out for at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival

Thursday’s opening night at Meydan is the first of 10 Dubai World Cup Carnival meetings building up to the world’s richest day of horse racing on 25 March. Sam Price has the lowdown

Raising the stakes

The spellbinding moments of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival – which saw popular American colt California Chrome crush his rivals in a handicap before going on to reign supreme in the main event – will take some topping in 2017, but Dubai Racing Club have been working to maintain both the quality and quantity of runners. This year, prize money has been increased to USD $10.9 million across the 61 thoroughbred races, four Arabian contests and 10 meetings held in the lead-up to World Cup night, luring some of the best horses in the business to the emirate for their winter quarters before strutting their stuff at Meydan.

International flavour

The carnival is renowned for attracting horses from across the full spectrum of global training centres, and 2017 will be no exception, with the accepted entries comprising horses from 18 countries, up from 16 last year. While the traditional training powerhouses are typically well represented, there are also some less familiar faces, with South Korean trainers building upon the trailblazing exploits of Cheongu and Success Story in 2016 by sending seven new equine challengers to Dubai. Meanwhile, the opening night will kick off with a rare treat as the highest-rated horse in India, Desert God, is pitched into battle by trainer S Padmanabhan.

Returning champions

Also among the exciting list of entries are some of the horses who starred on World Cup night last year, including Dubai Sheema Classic-winning superstar Postponed, France’s reigning Dubai Gold Cup champion Vazirabad, and Japan’s 2016 UAE Derby winner Lani, who will be campaigned towards the Dubai World Cup this time. Two stalwarts are also set to make history, with previous World Cup night victors Sole Power and Krypton Factor both set to embark on a record seventh Dubai World Cup Carnival campaign.

Godolphin challenge

Saeed Bin Suroor will be eager to reclaim his title as the carnival’s leading trainer following Doug Watson’s stellar season in 2016, and the seven-time Dubai World Cup-winning trainer looks to have the firepower to do it, with Emirates Flyer, Silent Attack and American Hope representing him on the opening night. Meanwhile, fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has shipped out a team of 16 horses to his Marmoom stables, including Group 2 winner Emotionless, who will make his debut on dirt in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Meydan Racecourse will host Dubai World Cup Carnival meetings every Thursday from 5 January to 23 February, in the build-up to “Super Saturday” on 4 March and Dubai World Cup night on 25 March