The Dubai Racing Club may have left it to the last minute but they unveiled a bumper entry for the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival that starts at Meydan in just under three weeks.
Last season the organisers of the world’s most lucrative Carnival were batting away suggestions that interest had dwindled, but there were 218 horses on the sheet yesterday, which is up by 37 horses on 12 months ago.
The Dubai Racing Club have put their feelers out far and wide, also. Two seasons ago the entries came from just 13 countries, which jumped to 16 last year and now stands at 18.
Top of the class remains Britain, whose entry has leapt from 87 last year to 100 this season but it is South Korea who have beefed up their challenge the most.
Cheongu made history in January when he became the first horse from South Korea to compete at the Carnival but it was the Korean-bred Success Story, who ran the race of his life when third to California Chrome and Meydan stalwart Storm Belt in February.
Meydan have fostered stronger links with South Korean racing over the past few seasons and the move seems to have paid off with three trainers primed to travel from Asia with seven horses boasting 56 victories between them.
"The Dubai World Cup Carnival continues to attract some of the most exciting horses in global racing," Malih Lahej Al Basti, Meydan Group Vice Chairman and Chairman of Meydan Racing Committee, said.
"This season we made some changes to the Dubai World Cup Carnival programme and we are pleased with the response from the racing community.
"Meydan represents the world stage of horse racing and we are delighted to welcome back many returning horses and connections as well as fresh challengers for the new season."
It is never guaranteed that all 218 horses will run, but it is easy to see why there has been an increased interest. The Dubai Racing Club have announced that prize-money across the 10 Carnival meetings up to Super Saturday has gone up by nearly $500,000 (Dh1.8 million). That means that each of the 61 thoroughbred races that comprise the Carnival will be run for a minimum of $100,000 (Dh367,000).
For countries such as South Korea, Sweden and Norway, that represents a huge opportunity.
"Meydan Group provides generous subsidies to runners of the Dubai World Cup Carnival while prize money, which went up this season, is among the highest in the world," Al Basti added.
There has not been much of a dilution in quality, either. Two seasons ago there were 31 winners at the highest level set to run, but that number had dwindled to 22 last season.
Postponed heads up 24 Group or Grade 1 winners and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s flagbearer is being aimed at becoming the first dual winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Other equine luminaries set to grace Dubai include crack stayers Vazirabad, who will be out to defend his crown in the Dubai Gold Cup, as well as Big Orange and Quest For More, who will be out to dethrone the French champion.
UAE Derby winner Lani is a fascinating challenger for the Dubai World Cup, alongside the returning Mubtaahij for Mike de Kock.
History will also be made as Sole Power, the former Al Quoz Sprint winner, and Krypton Factor, the former Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, will be campaigned here for a record seventh time and will overtake King Jock as the horse to appear at most Carnivals.