The countdown to the world's richest race—the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)—begins Jan. 9 with the first of 10 meetings of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.
Eighteen internationally recognized group races span the Carnival, which includes a Super Saturday of Dubai World Cup preps on March 8, ahead the season-ending Dubai World Cup March 29.
The Dubai World Cup program of eight Thoroughbred stakes is worth combined purses of $27.25 million.
For the fifth consecutive year, Kentucky-based AmWest Entertainment will deliver the Carnival and the Dubai World Cup program for wagering in North and South America. Detailed information, including past performances, selections from handicapper Pat Cummings, and post-race analysis using exclusive Trackus reports, is available at www.AmwestEntertainment.com.
HRTV will broadcast live coverage the first Carnival meeting, beginning at 9:30 a.m. EST.
At least 14 nations will be represented by runners throughout the Carnival and more than two dozen group I winners are already on the grounds.
A number of the world's top trainers will send runners, including France's Andre Fabre and Mikel Delzangles, Germany's Peter Schiergen, Ireland's Michael Halford, Edward Lynam, Ger Lyons, and David Wachman, South Africa's Mike de Kock, and Great Britain's Andrew Balding, Marco Botti, Mick Channon, William Haggas, Charlie Hills, and Jeremy Noseda, as well as United States-based Seth Benzel.
Offering combined purses of $915,000, the first meeting features a six-race program anchored by the first round of the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (UAE-II). The three-round series is a springboard to the Dubai World Cup.
The Jan. 9 meeting is sponsored by luxury Swiss watchmaker Longines, the Carnival's official timekeeper.
The 1,600-meter (about one-mile) Maktoum Challenge on the all-weather Tapeta track attracted 10 entrants, including Brendan Brackan, the field's highest-rated runner, and last year's winner Barbecue Eddie, a Carnival fan favorite.
Trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Barbecue Eddie could become the first horse win the race twice.
The Maryland-bred Stormy Atlantic gelding comes in off fifth-place finish in a conditions races Dec. 19 at Meydan. He was having is first outing since an unplaced finish in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) March 30.
Barbecue Eddie will start from the far outside post in the 10-horse field, and Watson is hopeful of a good performance.
“He is in great form at home and has certainly improved from his one run this season, which he needed badly,” he said. “He is now 10 and owes us nothing, but we hope he will run a big race, despite the widest draw.”
Anamoine Ltd.'s Brendan Brackan won a one-mile handicap at the Galway Festival in July and took the Solonaway Stakes (Ire-III) at the same distance in September at the Curragh. The 5-year-old Big Bad Bob gelding is trained by Ger Lyons.
Godolphin Racing is double-handed with English group II winner Steeler, a Raven's Pass colt who will be starting for the first time in 437 days since finishing third in the 2012 Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I), and 2013 United Arab Emirates Oak (UAE-III) winner Shuruq, an Elusive Quality filly.
Last season's leading trainer Saeed bin Suroor is bidding for an eighth win in the race with Shuruq, is the only filly entered.
"She won the UAE Oaks last year having been second in the (United Arab Emirates) One Thousand Guineas, so the surface is ideal and trip is perfect for her first run back (at Meydan)," he said "She looks great and has been working well.
"She was a bit disappointing over the summer and has to take on the colts here, but we have to be hopeful judged on her home gallops."
South African trainer Mike de Kock will send out two runners: Coolmore and partner's former Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender Daddy Long Legs enters off a fifth in a one-mile race at Newmarket Nov. 2. He will bid to halt a seven-race winless stretch dating from his victory in the 2012 United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II). Rerouted, a two-time winner at last year's Carnival, has not started in 283 days since finishing sixth in the Godolphin Mile.
Also carded is the listed $150,000 Singspiel Stakes, which will be run for the first time. The 1,800-meter race is a prep for the $200,000 Al Rashidiya (UAE-II) at the same distance Jan. 30.
The highest rated runner in the 12-horse field is de Kock's 2013 Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II) winner Mushreq, who will race for the first time since subsequently finishing tenth in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on last year's Dubai World Cup program.
The Carnival continues with meetings on Jan. 16, 23, and 30; Feb. 6, 13, 20, and 27; and March 1 and 8 before culminating with the Dubai World Cup card March 29.