DUBAI // The Star-Spangled Banner rang loud as Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, crowned California Chrome as winner of the 21st Dubai World Cup on Saturday.
The world’s best racehorses thundered round Meydan Racecourse, culminating in the American horse’s win, with others from the UAE, Japan, Australia and France also earning victories.
With Meydan’s crescent rooftop looming over a crowd of 60,000 fans, fireworks lit up the skies to open the world’s richest horse racing event.
A ceremony with music, light, film and pyrotechnics was broadcast on the track’s large screens. It opened with the vision of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, and scenes of a campfire, tracing the history of the land where all equines trace their heritage.
This year’s event was illustrated in a coming-of-age story for Dubai, focusing on its ancestral heritage and humble beginning, and ending with its ambitious plans. Sheikh Hamdan welcomed those in attendance in an opening address.
Singer Janet Jackson brought the racing season to a close with a show shortly before midnight.
Magnificent millinery and chic fashion enthralled the star-studded crowd. The most stylish and immaculate were awarded prizes in six categories – best-dressed lady, best-dressed man, best-dressed couple, best hat, most creative lady and Longines Most Elegant Lady, named for the Swiss watch brand.
Fashionistas picked up numbered paddle boards and were judged for presentation by a committee of experts.
The award for the best hat went to an Australian milliner based in the UK, 31-year-old Ana Pribylova, for a wavy creation coloured in shiny rose-gold.
Competing in several fashion categories, she had won the Most Elegant Lady award last year.
“I won a different category last year and I won this year, but being a milliner, this is the award I wanted to win the most. It’s what I do. My hat is quite different from the rest, but the fashion is incredible here,” she said.
While those in the aprons, suites, lounge and hospitality areas were dressed to the nines, others paid Dh25 general admission tickets and sat on the grass or lined up at the fence around the paddock to watch the race.
Othman Ahmed was one of many Sudanese who attended.
“We go to all races in the UAE, in Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the Pick 6 category. I’ve won Dh6,000 at one of the local races this year. I hope to win something again tonight.”
The Pick 6 competition is free to enter and the total prize money is nearly Dh240,000.
“You’ve got all walks of life here. It’s an inclusive, happy event,” said Mr Othman.
Frank Gabriel, executive director of the Dubai Racing Club, thanked owners who took part.
We’re very proud of the attendance and participation of everyone. It was a great World Cup night,” he said.
With awards of US$30 million (Dh110m) across nine races, the Dubai World Cup itself offers a prize of $10m (Dh36.7m).
Source: uae news