The Dubai World Cup has again proven to lead the way in horse racing’s international era, its global appeal emphasised by the Dubai Racing Club receiving in excess of 1,600 entries from 27 countries for the world’s richest race-meeting.

The 2009 US$6,000,000 Group 1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, to be run on March 28, 2009, holds special significance as it will be the 14th and final renewal staged at Nad Al Sheba racecourse before racing is moved to Meydan in 2010.

ASIATIC BOY and WELL ARMED, second and third behind champion Curlin in 2008, head an impressive list of 263 entries for the Dubai World Cup.

Other nominations include Japan’s star mare DAIWA SCARLET, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner ALBERTUS MAXIMUS and COLONEL JOHN.

Asiatic Boy’s stablemate HONOUR DEVIL is also entered, the four-year-old out to create history by capturing the Dubai World Cup a year after winning the UAE Derby.

A total of 16 countries are represented in the entries for the Dubai World Cup itself, up from 11 in 2008, and, not surprisingly, the three countries to be represented by winners of the Dubai World Cup, the UAE, USA and England, are again prominent in the entries.

The UAE leads the way with a total 143 entries, followed by the USA (39), South Africa (18), GB (13), Japan (10), Saudi Arabia (9), Brazil and France (7), Peru (6), Qatar (5), Argentina, Bahrain, Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Mauritius and Uruguay (1).

“The Dubai Racing Club and the Dubai World Cup is committed to the era of international racing, and as we can see from the increased number of entries we have received, it proves that, so too are the world’s owners and trainers,” said Dubai Racing Club CEO, Mr Frank Gabriel Jr.

“Nad Al Sheba has been the home of the most international race meeting in the world and the Dubai World Cup meeting this year will be the perfect finale to this racecourse before we move to Meydan in 2010.”

Champions are prevalent in the other races for the meeting. EAGLE MOUNTAIN and VIVA PATACA, who fought out a thrilling Hong Kong Cup in December are set to resume their rivalry in the US$5,000,000 Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by Nakheel, the race attracting 280 entries from 18 countries.

The Hong Kong-trained Viva Pataca returns hoping to go one better than his second to Sun Classique in 2008.

DOCTOR DINO, third in 2008 and winner of the Hong Kong Vase, is set to continue his international travels while the Japan Cup winner SCREEN HERO and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe second YOUMZAIN returns for a third attempt after his third in 2007 and fifth last year.

In 2008 six individual Group 1 winners emerged from the Dubai Duty Free and the quality of the race is again certain in 2009 with a plethora of stars nominated.

The South African JAY PEG has begun his campaign at the Dubai International Racing Carnival in preparation for his defence on the US$5,000,000 Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, a race that attracted 333 entries from 19 countries. It is also the second round of the US$12,000,000 Asian Mile Challenge.

ARCHIPENKO and VODKA, third and fourth last year, are set to return and both will have lead-up runs at the Dubai International Racing Carnival while Australia’s Horse of the Year, WEEKEND HUSSLER, is being aimed at the race and will come through the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield on February 28, the opening round of the Asian Mile Challenge.

LUSH LASHES, winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and Yorkshire Oaks, and Prix de l’Opera winner LADY MARIAN are also among a star studded array of entries.

Champions from five regions headline the 154 entries for the US$2,000,000 Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News.

Europe’s champion sprinter MARCHAND D’OR, America’s INDIAN BLESSING, South Africa’s J J THE JET PLANE, Japan’s SLEEPLESS NIGHT and Australia’s APACHE CAT all figure prominently in the entries and the track record at Nad Al Sheba looks in danger of being shattered.

The US$2,000,000 Group 2 UAE Derby, sponsored by S & M Al Naboodah Group, sees Godolphin’s recent recruits MIDSHIPMAN and VINEYARD HAVEN amongst the 154 entries from 14 countries along with a triumvirate of American Grade 1 winners PIONEER OF THE NILE, SQUARE EDDIE and SKY DIVA.

Cigar Mile winner TALE OF EKATI and HARLEM ROCKER are among the 332 entries from 18 countries for the US$1,000,000 Group 2 Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat.

The Purebred Arabian US$250,000 Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic, sponsored by Emaar, received 53 entries from seven countries including the defending champion MIZZNA, Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 winner KANDAR DU FALGAS and the French Group 1 winner NASHWAN AL KHALIDIAH.