Courses for Horses

The world’s biggest and most expensive racecourse has opened for business in Dubai. Its first major showcase will come when it stages the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race meeting, at the end of March. Sheikh Mohammed’s dream has finally become a reality.


On 28th January, 34 months and at least US$1.25 billion after work began, the biggest and most expensive racecourse in the history of horse racing opened in Dubai. ‘The opening of Meydan Racecourse in 2010 will be                   !””   Emirates and Wembley all rolled into one,”    # %&   having ridden in the Dubai International Carnival. “When they turn the lights on it looks like a spaceship from Star Wars.” ”  ' ( &   have people believe, the venue is, quite simply, enormous. Covering 7.5 million square metres, the development comprises two tracks – one turf, one all-weather – as well as an 18- hole golf course. The centrepiece is of course the glittering new 60,000-capacity grandstand. The distinctive wing-shaped building, which ”)*  +”     +  /9:;  <    =>   racing museum, a 10,000-capacity covered car park as well as state of the art breeding and  ”        longest LED screen. This being the Middle East, where no spectacular sporting arena is complete without its own spectacular wharf to berth luxury yachts, the eastern end of the grandstand features Meydan Marina, from which a full view of the racing is offered. Some estimates suggest that the racecourse will have cost as much as US$2 billion to construct, when all is said and done. To put that in perspective, the redevelopment of  ? @        ”    'A   of European racing, cost just UK£210 million. The racecourse complex itself is only one part of a wider development called Meydan City. With the racecourse as its focal point, the development also includes Godolphin Parks, a waterfront residential area which features some staggering – even for Middle Eastern standards – equestrian-themed architecture; Metropolis, intended to be the business heart of Meydan City; and Horizons, the downtown area of Meydan City with meandering canals and a mixture of   ”   shops and arcades. The development as whole, when it has all been completed, will have cost some US$2.7 billion.     #     ” +      sacked as work fell well behind schedule – the              ” &   (F  Tayer, chairman of Meydan Group and of @  ?            ”      elements on the wider development had had to be placed on hold due to the economic climate. “We have focused on the business park, Horizons and the grandstand, racing district and hotel zone, and we shall monitor the other phases that are still off-plan, and      ” N he said at the beginning of February. “We had various plans that we have elected to defer a little bit, but a majority of these zones are well underway and we are working with the investors.” Meydan City, and Meydan Racecourse in particular, is the vision of Sheikh Mohammed ? =    ”  Dubai and perhaps the biggest investor in horse racing the sport will ever see. Sheikh Mohammed, whose multimillion-dollar racing operations include both the prestigious Darley and Godolphin stables, wanted to build a facility that could compete with major A     = will now host the Dubai World Cup, which,   ” V(X):     richest horse race meeting. The race is due to take place on the 27th March and will   ”   ”    Organisers expect some 300,000 spectators over the ten-race meeting. The Meydan development has received     ”  A   in the racing industry. “Sheikh Mohammed has made an amazing commitment to racing,” says Richard FitzGerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group. “He has led the    ”       amounts of money all over the world for  Y  ”   F    money where his mouth is. He clearly loves   ”            commitment to racing. I personally think = Z        ”       “    <  looking forward to going out there in March and seeing one of the best racecourses on earth – more than just a racecourse, obviously – hotel and entertainment complex. I think his commitment is second to none.” Currently, the season runs from January to March for Meydan. The venue is due to be used for conferences and other major events throughout the off-season. The scale of investment as it is, however, Sheikh Mohammed and his team will not allow     ”      with interest the creation and the vision of Meydan,” says Edward Gillespie who, as managing director of Cheltenham Racecourse and a former managing director of United Racecourses, is one of the most powerful men in the horse racing industry, “and I think        A             ”                  ”   [            \!             want to have their own racing economy.” Indeed, that seems to be a notion echoed by the chief executive of Dubai Racing, Frank Gabriel Jr. “The vision was always that Meydan would be used 365 days a year, which is why there is so much adding that can be done outside racing times,” he said. “In terms of racing you always have to be very conscious of the temperature here but, 70 2010 04 James Emmett {filedir_26}SportsProMag_issue20_70-72.pdf [8070] [sportspro_april_2010] SportsPro April 2010