The Dubai World Cup is one of the richest horse races on the planet and every March some of the best horses and jockeys from around the world descend on Dubai to compete for an enormous cash prize.
Beyond the racing, the Dubai World Cup provides plenty of action off the track, including high-end fashion, entertaining people-watching, and private suites serving the rich and famous.
If you appreciate the thrill of horse racing or simply love a day at the track, it doesn’t get more extravagant than this.
Everything you need to know about this great sporting event is below.
History of the Dubai World Cup
Horse racing is a relative newcomer to the United Arab Emirates, with the first World Cup taking place in 1996.
The first-ever winner was an American Hall of Fame thoroughbred, Cigar.
The thoroughbred race attracts the most talented horses from around the globe who take part in lead-up races for the chance to compete in the main event, the ninth race on the day.
The race covers a distance of 2 km and was initially held at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse until 2009. Before the glamorous race moved to the brand-new Meydan Racecourse.
Where Does the Dubai World Cup Take Place
On the last Saturday in March, 60,000 fans arrive at the stunning Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
The course’s mile-long grandstand comes complete with an over-arching roof protecting those in the extravagant VIP sections while being home to a 5-star Meydan Marina hotel.
They do nothing in halves in Dubai.
The racetrack is also home to a prominent horse racing museum, an expansive art gallery, and a nine-hole golf course perfect for an early morning round before the racing begins.
Traveling to Dubai
Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest in the world, with the capacity to welcome 100 million travelers every single year.
Around 90 major airlines have connections through Dubai with many travelers using the United Arab Emirates as a layover on their way to Europe or Asia and Australia.
Over two hundred destinations enjoy a direct path to the city and the Dubai World Cup.
Flying with Emirates is one of the most common ways people make their way to Dubai, being both the national airline and the busiest local air carrier.
However, flying with Emirates may not suit all budgets. Thankfully, there are several low-cost airlines that transit through Dubai daily.
These include Norwegian Air Shuttle, Condor, Air Arabia, and Virgin Atlantic.
British Airways is another good option from Europe, and they tend to offer some quite competitively priced flights between London and Dubai.
Getting Tickets to the Dubai World Cup
General admission tickets for the Dubai World Cup can go for as little as $5USD.
The ticket will give you limited access to the grandstand along with access to the food court in the mezzanine.
However, for those coming in from overseas, these tickets can only be purchased at the racetrack, which gets snapped up fast on World Cup night.
The most popular option is to purchase a ticket to the Apron Views. This option is perfect for racegoers who want to be trackside, where you can enjoy all the action up close and personal.
Join fellow racing fans and those along for the fun of the day for the closest view in the house. You will also get up close to the Style Stakes, the other major competition of the night.
In the Apron Views, you will have a dedicated food court which, just like the mezzanine, isn’t your average food court.
All the extravagance of the day includes your dining experience.
The Premium and Gallery sections are two other popular areas that are well worth paying the extra price.
These areas provide stunning views of the track and the finish line and easy access to food and drink provisions.
Getting to the Track
Meydan Racecourse is 11km away from downtown Dubai and you will have two choices for getting to the track.
The most popular and easiest choice is to take a cab directly to the racetrack, especially if you are staying downtown.
If you are further away from the city or not staying downtown, you can make use of the city’s metro system and get off at Business Bay Metro Station.
On arrival, jump in a taxi for the short ride to Meydan.
There are 7 zones in the Dubai Metro and the price of transport will depend on how many zones you travel through.
We suggest purchasing a Red Ticket that will grant you 5 daily passes and costs around $25USD.
A Night at the Dubai World Cup
Dubai isn’t known for throwing tame events, so it is not a shock that the Dubai World Cup experience is over-the-top amazing. It will be the first thing you notice as you enter Meydan.
As you wander around, you will enjoy the people-watching and celebrity spotting, while your resident food courts will present delectable international cuisine.
Under the lights, you will watch extravagantly dressed women and men in the Style Stakes before roaming the charming Irish Village.
But as soon as the races begin, heads turn in unison as the world’s best horses sprint to the finish.
Where to Stay
For the ultimate Dubai World Cup experience, then staying at the five-star Meydan Marina is the obvious choice. Featuring racetrack views, luxurious accommodation, and the ability to walk out of your room and into the grandstand, it just doesn’t get any better.
For slightly cheaper options that still put you close to the racetrack, you can search for accommodation within Dubai’s Design District.
Here you will find a variety of 3 to 5-star hotels and a short 15-minute drive to the racecourse. Not to mention being close to Jumeirah Beach.
For those who wish to experience the downtown area or want to save some money, you will have plenty of choices.
Keep in mind that Dubai is not a famous backpacker destination and you won’t find true budget hotels and hostels.
If you want to live it up, you can check into Burj Khalifa, the home of the Armani Hotel. A building that is nothing but luxury and pure elegance.
While the Carlton offers easy access to the local metro and views of Burj Khalifa.
For a simple and budget-friendly three-star hotel, check out the Rove Downtown. The Rove is close to the airport and has such attractions as La Mer and Dubai Deira.
Where to Watch on TV
If you can’t make it to Dubai for the world’s richest day of racing, you will still be able to witness all the action from the comfort of your home, or with a pint in hand at your local sports pub.
For those playing along at home, if you don’t have access to a TV sports package, you can enjoy all the glitz and glamour (and the race itself) thanks to streaming on RacingTV.com.
You can also find the official World Cup site here.