By Muhammad Rafiq
DUBAI: The 15th Dubai World Cup Carnival will be one of historic proportions in 2019, with record purses during the course of its 10 meetings at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Prize money will be boosted 12%, totalling US $12,670,000, and the Dubai World Carnival will take place on Thursdays from January 3 through February 28 for its first nine meetings. Its 10th and final will be Super Saturday, March 9.
The three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge have received purse increases as they pave a lucrative local path to the recently boosted $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (Group 1, 2000m, March 30). Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (Group 2, 1600m, January 10) is now worth $350,000; an increase of $100,000. Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (Group 2, 1900m, February 7) is now worth $450,000; an increase of $200,000. Lastly, Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (Group 1, 2000m, Super Saturday) is now worth $600,000; an increase of $200,000. Eight of the previous 19 Dubai World Cup winners have competed in the series, including four of the last seven.
Super Saturday’s remaining fixtures have received boosts as final course and distance preps for their coinciding Dubai World Cup night races, including the Jebel Hatta (Group 1, 1800m turf), which will increase $100,000 to $400,000 as the preliminary for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (Group 1). Two races receive $50,000 boosts; the Dubai City of Gold (Group 2, 2410m turf) will be worth $300,000 as the dress rehearsal for the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1), while the Al Bastakiya (Listed, 1900m) goes up to $300,000 as the prep for the richest dirt derby in the world, the $2.5 million UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (Group 2).
Three Super Saturday races increase by $150,000 for total purses of $350,000, respectively. The Mahab Al Shimaal (Group 3, 1200m) will serve as a dry run for the world’s richest dirt sprint, the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (Group 1). The Burj Nahaar (Group 3, 1600m) sets the stage for the globe’s second-richest dirt mile, the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One (Group 1). Lastly, the newly upgraded Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (Group 3, 1200m turf) will once again be the ideal prep, as displayed in 2018 by Godolphin’s Jungle Cat, for the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (Group 1).
Eight additional stakes receive boosts for 2019, including the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (Group 3, 2810m turf, February 28), which will increase by $100,000 to be worth $300,000 to stayers looking to tackle the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (Group 2, 3200m turf) 30 days later.
The Meydan Sprint (Group 2, 1000m turf, February 14) increases $75,000 to $250,000, fortifying a strong turf sprint program.
Fillies and mares will see $50,000 increases in both the Cape Verdi (Group 2, 1600m turf, January 17) and Balanchine (Group 2, 1800m turf, February 14), with each now worth $250,000.
The road to the aforementioned Dubai Turf is enriched by the purse increases of the Singspiel Stakes (Group 3, 1800m turf, January 3), which is up $25,000 to $200,000, and the Al Rashidiya (Group 2, 1800m turf, January 24), which receives a $50,000 boost to $250,000. The Singspiel strengthens a robust January 3 opening day card that also includes the Dubawi Stakes (Group 3, 1200m) for dirt sprinters, which increases $25,000 to $200,000.
The 3-year-old program has been expanded, allowing horses to take turf, dirt, sprint and route roads to the UAE Derby. The Meydan Classic (Listed, 1600m turf, February 28) received a $25,000 purse increase to $175,000 and is supported by the $100,000 Meydan Classic Trial (1400m turf, January 31), as well as two new races: the $100,000 Dubai Trophy (1400m turf, January 10) and $100,000 Meydan Trophy (1900m turf, February 14) for sophomores preferring a little more ground.
On dirt, the longwinded will also get a new race in the $100,000 Al Bastakiya Trial (1900m, January 24), while those wishing to run in both the $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (Group 3, 1600m, February 7) and Al Bastakiya will have an additional week between the two.
The $100,000 UAE 2000 Guineas Trial (1600m, January 10) has been increased in trip, while 3-year-old fillies will again have a fluid three-race series that culminates with the $250,000 UAE Oaks (Group 3, 1900m, February 21).
Dubai World Cup Carnival handicaps will receive increases ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, with the minimum total purse being $135,000 and rising as high as $175,000.