The Day The Rains Came To The Desert

Dubai World Cup memories

The Dubai World Cup meeting celebrates its historic 25th anniversary on 27 March, with six Gr1 races and three Gr2’s, including one of the world’s premier races, the $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline.

We rewind to 1997, when Singspiel, owned and bred by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the Dubai World Cup.

Singspiel trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Jerry Bailey won the second edition of the Dubai World Cup in 1997. (Pic- Dubai racing Club)

It was the year the rain came to the desert. It began shortly after lunch on Dubai World Cup day and thoughts of it being a passing shower diminished by the hour as Nad Al Sheba became increasingly waterlogged.

As the afternoon went into evening, with the rain persisting, the first four events were called off and hopes were that the Dubai Duty Free and Dubai World Cup could be run.

The Dubai Duty Free was lost and then came that now famous action from HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, his finger going across his throat signalling the event be called off.

An emergency meeting was held with trainers and organisers and it was decided that all attempts would be made to host the event on the following Thursday. All were given the choice of running or not and only the French raider, Helissio, was withdrawn.

Thereby began 24-hour days to ensure the course was back to its best when Thursday arrived. The media, guests and all connections stayed on and enjoyed the hospitality of HH Sheikh Mohammed and the race’s creator was rewarded when Singspiel laid to rest any semblance of criticism that it was an event purely for the Americans.

Singspiel added the Dubai World Cup to a list of international achievements, including wins in the Canadian International, second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and victory in the Japan Cup.

Showing enough speed to sit behind the leaders from an inside draw, jockey Jerry Bailey always had the horse within striking distance. As the early leaders began to feel the pressure, Singspiel was ready to strike, he went through an opening at the top of the straight and put the race beyond doubt. Siphon held on well all the way down the straight for second, as did Sandpit in third.

Watch a clip here


Singspiel returned to Europe and won the Coronation Cup, finished fourth behind Swain in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes before what would be his final run, defeating Derby winners Desert King and Benny The Dip in the Juddmonte International.

Unfortunately, when being prepared for the Breeders’ Cup, Singspiel suffered a career-ending injury and was immediately retired.

Singspiel’s association with the Dubai World Cup continued as his son Moon Ballad went on to win the title in 2003.

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