We don't know about you but when we think of the Dubai World Cup, the first thing that springs to mind is the fabulous ensembles and big-name guests. However, the world's richest horserace is a sport the UAE is immensely proud of, and rightly so. But unless you've grown up at the races, it can be difficult to get your head around what the occasion is all about, so we're happy that Princess Haya bint Al Hussein has explained everything in an open letterfor us amateurs.
Read on for what we learned about the Dubai World Cup from the UAE royal. See you trackside on March 25!
Horse racing is hundreds of years old
"At its simplest, horse racing is a contest to decide whose horse is the fastest. The multibillion-dollar Thoroughbred racing industry that we know today came from humble beginnings some 300 years ago."
Its history is more Arab than you thought
"The sport was built around a new breed of horse, the Thoroughbred, this breed is directly descended from three Purebred Arabian Horses: The Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian, and the Byreley Turk.
"Every racehorse in the modern sport of Racing has its own breeding papers, and a passport that trace its ancestry back to these three horses that come from our desert."
Racehorses are carefully bred
"Breeders produce foals through carefully judged matings. These youngsters are generally sold at auction when around a year old. The best-bred yearlings can command large sums. These horses are bought by individuals, or groups organized into syndicates, with the intention of having them trained and raced."
Horses start training at just two years old
"These youngsters generally enter training as two-year-olds, when they become the day-to-day responsibility of the trainer. They are introduced to riding and the paraphernalia of racing, ranging from the riding gear to the starting gates at the racetrack.
"Trainers take responsibility for the exercising, feeding and housing of the horses, as well as organizing appropriate health care. The owners pay the bills and often help dictate where the horses will run and how they will be produced."
This is where the money comes from
"The most talented horses grow in status and value, competing in races for higher prize money. The majority of this money goes to the first place-getter, with horses finishing lower down the order receiving lesser sums.
"This prize money, referred to as stakes, comes from two main sources - sponsorship and money channeled back through the industry."
Here's how they're named
"Race sponsors will usually get naming rights, enjoying the exposure that goes with it."
Fans do not bet on horses at the Dubai World Cup
"The final key group are the racing fans and (in the West) bettors. The traditional business model in racing channels a share of betting income back to the industry to support racing. This is seen as only fair, given that the industry provides the product upon which people can bet. Governments (in the West) take a share of the betting revenue, too, so politicians are generally happy to provide some income to the industry to keep it healthy.
"The UAE, of course, does not follow this traditional model, given that we do not allow gambling. The result is a family-friendly, accessible sport, where people come for the entertainment, or to indulge their love of horses."