Dubai World Cup Cancelled

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The Dubai World Cup is the latest sporting event to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Dubai Racing Club on Sunday confirming that the 25th edition of the world's richest day of racing, set for next Saturday, Mar. 28, has been cancelled.

A statement from the Dubai Racing Club read, “To safeguard the health of all participants, the higher organising committee of the Dubai World Cup has decided to postpone the 25th edition of the global event to the next year. Further to the UAE government's precautionary measures against the virus, we believe it is our duty to help protect the well-being of residents and guests.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the stakeholders of the Dubai World Cup, and we hope to welcome all participants and guests next year.”

Eight group races for Thoroughbreds and one for Purebred Arabians were scheduled, worth a total of $35-million.

Saeed bin Suroor has won the card's featured race, the $12-million G1 Dubai World Cup, nine times including the last two renewals with Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}), and he was set to saddle Godolphin's Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) as one of the favourites in the 2000 metre dirt race. While bin Suroor-who splits his time between Dubai and England–said the cancellation is “a huge shame” for Benbatl, he said he agreed with the decision.

“This is happening all over the world, including England, and I think it is in the best interests of keeping everybody very healthy,” he said. “The health of everybody has to be the number one priority now, for everybody.

“We have to put this into perspective. What is happening around the world is shocking, and the government has made the right decision to look after people. We just have to hope this thing clears up as quickly as possible. It will take time, but hopefully, all around the world, people get better.

“For our sport, that is so important as we need our horses to run–that means everything for us–but at the same time we have a responsibility to look after our people.”

All racing in Britain has been cancelled through April, and bin Suroor said he will remain in Dubai to oversee his horses there for the time being.

“Travel has not been banned as yet, but I still have horses here so until I know what is happening with them I won't be going back to Newmarket.”

The Dubai World Cup was also set to feature formidable raiding parties from the U.S. and Japan, including GI Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man), GI Belmont S. winner Sir Winston (Awesome Again) and multiple graded stakes winner and multiple Grade I-placed Tacitus (Tapit) for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott, who had both previously tasted success in the race.

The undercard was set to include horses like Defoe (GB) (Dalakhani {Ire}), Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Star Catcher (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the $6-million Dubai Sheema Classic; Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) and Barney Roy (GB) (Excelebration {Ire}) in the $6-million G1 Dubai Turf and Group 1-winning stayers Call The Wind (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and Cross Counter (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) in the $1.5-million G2 Dubai Gold Cup.

As of Sunday, there were 153 reported cases of COVID-19 in the UAE, and two deaths. The Dubai-based Emirates Airlines announced on Sunday it would suspend all passenger flights from Mar. 25. Cargo flights will continue to operate.

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