The UAE’s Horse Racing Background

December 28, 2021

Horse Racing in the United Arab Emirates

When thinking about horse racing, the United Arab Emirates always rings a bell to worldwide horse racing fans and enthusiasts. Apart from it being one of the best and the safest travel/tourist destinations worldwide, the UAE’s rich history and all things equestrian truly attracts people around the globe.

Talking about all things equestrian, in several countries, people have shown great interest in horse racing. In fact, as far back as the year 2004 until today, worldwide interest has been consistently present. In the United Arab Emirates, interest by subregion for horse racing is centered in the Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.

The sport’s popularity has made countries devise their own particular horse racing traditions, such as running in different gaits, on different distances, over some obstacles, including race restrictions for certain horse breed types. In addition, gambling that has been associated with horse racing over the years plays a major part in worldwide interest.

QUICK FACT: In 2008, horse racing generated a worldwide market of around 115B USD.


Racing of horses in the UAE as an equestrian sport has made the country become part of the so-called “great racing nations”. Professional horse racing started in the country in the year 1992 that coincides with the development of Emirates Racing Authority (ERA). Since then, horse racing has been held at these five racecourses across the country:

    • Ghantoot — Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club
    • Jebel Ali — Jebel Ali Racecourse
    • Sharjah — Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club
    • Abu Dhabi — Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club
    • Nad Al Sheba (replaced by Meydan) — Dubai Racing Club


horse racing

QUICK FACT: In October 1981, horse racing started in the Emirate of Dubai which was organised by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is when the dusty Camel Track hosted its first race meeting for Thoroughbreds.

Dubai World Cup

The Biggest Horse Race Event

The Dubai World Cup 2022 is one of the most anticipated events for horse racing in the UAE. 

It took place on March 26 (Saturday) at the Meydan Racecourse. The first race started at 3:45 pm and the gates were open at 12:00 noon.

Here are the results: Source: Gulf News

Details: 2,000m (a10F), dirt, $12m
1 Country Grammer, B Baffert, F Dettori
2 Hot Rod Charlie, D O’Neill, F Prat
3 Chuwa Wizard, R Okubo, Y Kawada

Details: 1,200m (a16f), turf, $1m
1 Stay Foolish, Y Yahagi, C Lemaire
2 Manobo, C Appleby, W Buick
3 Al Madhar, M Al Mheiri, A Fresu

Details: 2,000m (a10f), dirt, $1m
1 First Class, A de Mieulle (trainer), R Thomas (jockey)
2 Kerless Del Roc, A Al Mehairbi, P Cosgrave
3 Hadi De Carrere, T Fourcy, O Peslier

Details: 1,600m (a8f), dirt, $1m
1 Bathrat Leon, Y Yahagi, R Sakai
2 Desert Wisdom, A Al Shemaili, A de Vries
3 Storm Damage, S bin Suroor, C Soumillon

Details: 1,200m (a6f), turf, $1.5m
1 A Case Of You, A McGuinness, R Whelan
2 Happy Romance, R Hannon, S Levey
3 Man Of Promise, C Appleby, W Buick

Details: 1,900m (a9.5f), dirt, $1m
1 Crown Pride, K Shintani, D Lane
2 Summer Is Tomorrow, B Seemar, M Barzalona
3 Island Falcon, S bin Suroor, P Cosgrave

Details: 1,200m (a6f), dirt, $2m
1 Switzerland, B Seemar, T O’Shea
2 Red Le Zele, T Yasuda, Y Kawada
3 Dr Schivel, M Glatt, F Prat

Details: 1,800m (a9f), turf, $5m
1 Lord North, J Gosden, F Dettori
1 Panthalassa, Y Yahagi, Y Yoshida
3 Vin De Garde, H Fujiwara, M Barzalona

Details: 2,410m (a12F), turf, $6m
1 Shahryar, H Fujiwara, C Demuro
2 Yibir, C Appleby, W Buick
3 Authority, T Kimura, C Lemaire


There are several types available in which different breeds of horses excel on each type.

    • Harness Racing – horses pace or trot while pulling a driver seated on a sulky or a lightweight cart. (Horse breeds: Standardbreds, Russian Trotter, French Trotter, Scandinavian coldblood trotter, and Finn Horses)
    • Flat Racing – around a straight or oval track, horses directly gallop between two points. (Horse breeds: Thoroughbred, Appaloosa, Paint, Quarter Horse, and Arabian horses)
    • Endurance Racing – horses travel across country over long distances that generally range from 40-61 km or 25-100 miles. Anything less than that qualifies as a limited distant ride. (Horse breeds: Arabian horses, Anglo-Arabian horses, Akhal-Teke, etc.)
    • Jump Racing – Horses race over obstacles. It is also known as steeplechasing, or  National Hunt Racing in Ireland and in the UK. (Horse breeds: Thoroughbred and AQPS.


The following details are examples of the available rules for horse racing and they are not limited to what are stated below:

  • A rider must remain mounted on the horse and cross the finish line to complete the race.
  • It is a must for jockeys to ride in a safe manner and follow the prescribed course.
  • Flat races must start from the starting stalls or a starting gate.
  • Jump race, steeplechase, and hurdle races must start with a starting gate or a flag which will require special permission.
  • If a horse has broken away before the start of the race, a false start will be declared, if the starter considers it.
  • Jockeys should ride their horses properly to the best of their ability. Disqualification and further sanctions may occur if neglected, based on the stewards opinion.

Horse racing is indeed a fascinating sport, and it’s one of the best events to witness and experience in the United Arab Emirates. Other equestrian events or activities such as polo, horseback riding, horse jumping, dressage, etc. are also some of the great things to do or become part of the spectators in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.