Meet the stars of the track during a breakfast tour of Dubai racing stables.
Magnificent thoroughbred horses thunder along the dirt track, past emerald green lawns and luscious date trees.
It’s 7am in the morning and the work riders are putting the horses through their daily track work at Dubai’s Nad Al Sheba stadium. This is where the world’s richest horse race – the US$6,000,000 Dubai World Cup – is run.
I’ve joined a small group of visitors on The Rising with the Stars breakfast tour of the stadium and stables.
Like everything else in Dubai, thoroughbred racing was created with the help of petrodollars and in this case, the sheikh’s determination to build a world-class racing facility in the desert.
No expense is spared.
The horses are stabled in luxury with air-conditioning and ceiling fans. There are swimming pools, grooming areas, farriers’ facilities and a private feed mill.
At the Blue Stables, we watch the grooms bath the horses and rub them down after their early morning track work. I stop to pat a three-year-old chestnut stallion.
The horse, which is identified by the electronic screen outside its stable, is a hit with the children.
One young girl, who clearly has a passion for horses, rests her head on the stallion’s mane.
Our next stop is the Nad Al Sheba Club, where we tuck into a traditional English breakfast as we enjoy views of green lawns and golfers practicing at the driving range.
After breakfast, we drive off in a convoy of golf carts to the Maktoum Grandstand where we explore the weighing room, jockeys’ facilities and stewards’ enquiry area.
Our guide is full of informative racing snippets ranging from stewarding rules to jockey scandals.
The fifth floor of the Millennium Grandstand is where Dubai’s high society gathers on racing days. Although traditional betting is illegal, prizes of up to 50,000 dirham (approximately $17,800) are offered to those lucky enough to pick the top six horses and the order in which the horses cross the finish line.
Last is the visit to Godolphin Gallery with its theatre, racing memorabilia and impressive display of trophies.
It leaves us with no doubt that Dubai’s horses will continue to be a major force in the racing world.
The writer was a guest of Emirates Airline