Dubai, a city synonymous with luxury and grandeur, reveals a different facet of its opulence through the thrilling sport of horse racing. At the heart of this equestrian spectacle is the Meydan Racecourse, a venue that epitomises architectural magnificence and embodies the rich heritage and passion for horse racing in the United Arab Emirates.
Each year, the racing season at Meydan builds in intensity and excitement, drawing in enthusiasts and elite competitors from across the globe. This equestrian mastery and competition reaches its zenith with the Dubai World Cup, often touted as one of the most prestigious and opulent horse racing events in the world.
In this guide to Horse Racing in Dubai:
Regular Race Days in Dubai
Horse racing in Dubai, generally speaking, takes place over the cooler winter months only on the dirt and turf courses at Meydan Racecourse, sitting just outside of Downtown Dubai.
Dubai Racing Carnival 2023-24
Taking place every Friday evening from 5:30 pm until late, running from 10 November 2023 to Friday 8 March 2024 (the exception is 1 March; the event is moved to 2 March and 3:30 PM for Super Saturday).
Tickets to the races can be purchased at the track or booked online for a premium package (though note that hospitality packages bought at the gate will cost you more and are subject to availability).
- General Public – you’re at ground level here with a selection of picnic tables and an open food court outdoors, open until the end of the last race. Adults AED 5, grab free kids entry tickets at the gate – entry Gate B.
- The Premium By McGettigan’s – includes a kid’s playground and cash bar in a dedicated ‘village.’ Kids Village is open from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Music at McGettigans continues until midnight. Adults AED 65, Family packages AED 180 – kids tickets are at the gate – entry Gate A.
Enjoy the races with a premium dining package
The Grandstand at Meydan offers commanding views over the track and Parade Ring offers many different dining packages to suit different budgets:
- Parade Ring Lounge – Centrally located on the ground floor, this is where you want to head for a close-up view of the action with a buffet dinner, al fresco seating and entertainment. Soft Packages AED 295; House Beverages AED 395
- Paddock View – A step up on level 4, this is a good choice for a mixed age group with great views, indoor and outdoor seating and a bottomless buffet dinner. Soft Packages AED 365; House Beverages AED 495
- Invasor Room – An elegant and upscale offering on the 2nd floor with great views of the track and parade ring. This is where you want to head for a classy and exciting evening. Soft packages AED 445; Premium Beverages AED 595
- Winners Circle Restaurant – On the 2nd & 3rd floors with excellent views through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the winners circle. This includes a 3-course sit-down dinner—Soft Packages AED 345 and house AED 445.
- Levels 3 and 4 of the Grandstand are dedicated to private suites, which can be booked for corporate events and special occasions throughout the racing season in Dubai.
You can learn more about specific weekly fixtures and special events by visiting dubairacingclub.com
Dubai World Cup 2024
One of the richest days on the international racing calendar, with $30.5 million in prize money on offer, the Dubai World Cup showcases the finest thoroughbreds of the season. The event brings out Dubai’s social elite and a glamorous international audience.
This year, the Dubai World Cup will take place on Saturday 30 March 2024
The hospitality packages we mention above are not available for the Dubai World Cup; there is an entirely different set of hospitality packages with a broader range of bars and restaurants open specifically for Dubai World Cup night.
Refer again to the dubairacingclub.com website to purchase packages for the Dubai World Cup.
What Type of Horse Racing do They Have at Meydan?
Meydan Racecourse consists of both a 1750-metre dirt track and a 2,400 turf track. Most Friday race nights will involve a combination of both tracks being used.
Each evening consists of six or seven races, held 35 minutes apart.
The hospitality services start 30 minutes before the first race, so on most Fridays this means things start at 5:30 PM with racing commencing at 6:00 PM. You want to get in and be seated early in the hospitality spaces if you want time to get stuck into the race program and fill in your Pick 6/7 in plenty of time and have your first drink served before the action starts.
Limited tables are available in the general public space, so you want to be in early if you wish to nab a table. Gates open at 4:30 PM.
What to Wear to the Races in Dubai
For the regular evening meets, really (almost) anything goes. Those sitting in general public outside will be seen in smart casual, but dressed for the weather (surprisingly, the winter evenings can get quite chilly!), so jeans and t-shirts with overcoats is fine in mid-winter. Shorts and trainers are also OK in the general public areas.
In the Grandstand hospitality suites and restaurants, it’s good to class it up a little more (no flip flops or shorts allowed); men should really be in smart trousers and buttoned shirts or suited.
Ladies can wear equivalent clothing to a brunch or afternoon tea, classy and glamorous but not totally OTT for regular race meets (unless you’re attending a special event like Fashion Friday).
Invitees to the Dubai Lounge and Horse Parade Ring (eg if you are a Horsemen’s guest, sponsor or authorised media) have amuch stricter dress code with strictly no sportswear, trainers, jeans etc.
For big race days, it’s your opportunity to go all out with hats and fascinators, high heels, and men most definitely suited and booted.
The Meydan Hotel Dubai At Meydan Racecourse
If you want to make a complete night of your horse racing experience in Dubai, then we’d suggest arranging to stay at the attached Meydan Hotel. You are walking distance here to the Grandstand, though they can assist you with an electric buggy ride door to door.
You can see the racing action from your rooms, too, though you’re a little far from the finish line. We’d suggest booking with the hotel and combining your stay with a hospitality package to be at the heart of the action.
The Rooms at The Meydan Hotel
You have the choice of rooms or suites. They are well known as some of the most spacious hotel rooms in the city.
- Grand Deluxe Balcony Room, Grand Premium Balcony Room (higher floors) and Grand Superior Balcony Room – all 62sqm
- Panoramic Suites – 132sqm, Presidential Meydan Suites (4 adults 2 kids) and Presidential Duplex Suites (split level sleeps up to 6)
Whilst they don’t offer those sought-after Gulf water views, its still a pretty spectacular and interesting view to wake up to, and in a great location for visiting other city attractions. Meydan is around 10 minutes by taxi from Downtown Dubai and 15 minutes from DXB Airport (all traffic dependent).
Dining at Meydan Hotel
There are formal dining options and several casual dining options at Meydan.
- Farriers is their international restaurant
- The Millennium Lounge for track views and al fresco dining and drinks
- Qube Sports Bar, with its screens, is perfect for big event days
- Grip n Sip is ideal for after a round of golf
- Or enjoy Equus Pool Bar for rooftop sips
NB – The hotel’s ‘in-house’ dining package includes dinner at Farriers on race nights. Yes, Farriers overlooks the course, but it is NOT the same as the hospitality packages and restaurants we mention above which sit immediately above the racing action and Parade Ring; your views from Farriers are quite distant.
- If not included with your stay, the race night packages at Farriers, including buffet and bottomless drinks, start from AED 249 Soft to AED 599 Sparkling.
- Alternatively, the Millenium Lounge is a little closer to the action with an open terrace, shisha, an a la carte menu and a minimum spend of AED 150. They stay open until very late if
Other Leisure facilities at Meydan
Other than coming to see the horse racing, there’s a great range of options. You are attached to a Golf Course, set around 6 lakes and the Meydan Tennis Academy, as well as the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views from the rooftop pool 9.
There’s a separate kiddy pool with a few pieces of playground equipment on the rooftop if you’re coming with the kids (why not ask the hotel to organise a nanny though, so you can pop out and enjoy the races?!)
Even if you’re not there for the racing, guests can arrange stable tours during their visit to the Meydan Hotel for a unique Dubai experience.
Gambling on Horse Racing in Dubai
In case you are not aware, gambling is still illegal in Dubai. That, as you can imagine, does not stop people from doing so, but you’d need a VPN to access any gambling sites from the URL.
What you won’t see trackside, however, is any bookies or TAB huts, etc, that you may be familiar with at horse racing events in other countries.
As an alternative to gambling, though, to keep the evening entertaining for punters, every guest is given a Pick 7 prediction game. These cards are distributed at the gate and need to be submitted 15 minutes before racing starts.
There are also Lucky Draw prizes to be won and car prizes and giveaways occur throughout the season.
Other Horse Experiences in Dubai
- Our complete guide to Dubai horse riding locations and equestrian events is coming soon!
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
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