The organising committee of the 2016 Dubai Gold Cup Series (Dubai Open) has unveiled details of the first-ever HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Polo Cup, which will conclude the 2016 high-goal series.
Mohammed Al Habtoor, Founder of the tournament, which is now the biggest polo event in the region, commended the prominent role played by His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, through his patronage of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series since inception. He said that the introduction of the new tournament, named in honour of Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed would add a new dimension to the Championship and build on the successes of the entire Series.
“No words can describe our happiness with the introduction of the tournament,” he said. “Our ambition has no limits.”
Al Habtoor thanked HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed for his ongoing support of the ‘Sport of Kings’, and said the growth of polo in the Dubai was down to the patrons, teams and supporters. “We have all played a key role in the growth of Polo in Dubai. The city is now well and truly on the global polo circuit, which is a great source of pride for us all,” he added.
The 18-goal event – one of the highest handicap tournaments in the region – will run from Friday March 18, 2016 to Saturday April 2, 2016 at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, a new equestrian centre currently under construction in DubaiLand.
Mohammed Al Habtoor added, “Each year the Dubai Gold Cup Series gets better and better attracting more teams and more players from the region and around the world. We are really pleased with its continued success. The introduction of new tournaments, like the HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Polo Cup, has been welcomed by everyone. This motivates us even further.”
Al Habtoor, who is head of the organising committee, confirmed that work is underway to extend the polo season in the United Arab Emirates to nine months. “This will undoubtedly attract the major teams and the best players around the world,” he said.
Mohammed Al Habtoor, patron on Habtoor Polo Team, founded the Dubai Gold Cup Series in 2009. Since then it has grown in tandem with the city of Dubai. Today it is one of the highest handicap events in the Middle East and the fourth largest tournament of its kind after Argentina, the US and the UK. The Dubai Open is split into two tournaments: the McLaren Silver Cup and the Julius Baer Gold Cup and played under the banner of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). It attracts polo stars from around the world, VIPs, society figures as well as senior corporate executives from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Al Habtoor said, “The competition, which started with 10 goal handicap, has picked up momentum and evolved into an 18 goal handicap competition in record time. This is down to the overwhelming desire of the participating teams and their owners who have backed the tournament for many years. They have all contributed to helping make Dubai a global polo destination.”
He also commended the role HH Sheikha Maitha Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has played in the sport. HH Sheikha Maitha regularly plays in the Dubai Gold Cup Series as well as other polo events in the UAE.
“The presence of HH Sheikha Maitha Bint Mohammed in the Dubai Gold Cup Series has contributed to the promotion of polo in the UAE and encouraged more players to the sport. She inspires women and is a great role model,” he said. He also praised the participation of players and patrons from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Al Habtoor concluded, “I have big plans for the Dubai Gold Cup Series next year. We are making preparations for the opening of the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, an equestrian centre in the heart of DubaiLand. It is a horse lover’s dream boasting the best polo fields in the world, and offering all equestrian disciplines. It will be a great addition to Polo in Dubai.”
The resort will also be home to The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club as well as 162 stylish bungalows, 24 of which will be St. Regis-branded luxury homes.