DUBAI // Meydan Racecourse, the UAE's flagship racing venue, throw open its doors for the first time this season tonight with a six-race, all-Tapeta card on which the concluding three races have all attracted proven Dubai World Cup Carnival performers.
This provides the first opportunity for trainers to advertise the Carnival claims of their horses before the international contingent arrives in January.
The champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, former champions Satish Seemar, Dhruba Selvaratnam and Doug Watson, as well as Musabah Al Muhairi and Ernst Oertel are all well represented on the first leg of a journey connections hope will end at the world's richest race meeting, the Dubai World Cup.
The meeting concludes with a quality 1200m handicap in which Oertel will saddle local debutant Bartolomeu with the champion jockey Tadhg O'Shea sporting the colours of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa. The only three year old in the race, he receives weight from his nine elder rivals and his best UK form would give him a chance.
However, the Abu Dhabi-based Oertel sounds hopeful rather than confident and said: "We hopefully have some nice new horses for this season and this is one of them but he may just need the run after a break.
"We had Ganas go very close last week but I would say he was a bit further forward than Bartolomeu.
"He seems a nice type though and had some good form in England before perhaps showing signs of a long season on his last two starts. Basically, whatever he achieves will be a bonus."
The main dangers all appear to be heading the handicap with Russian Rock, the winner of last season's Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, at the top of the weights.
Alo Pura, trained by Selvaratnam, beat Green Beret, one of many chances on the card for Al Raihe, when setting the track record over 1200m in late November 2010.
Third on that occasion was Barbecue Eddie who takes his chance in the preceding 1600m conditions race, officially the night's feature. Trained by Watson, he has won four times on the track over 1400m but appears well worth a try at this extra 200m.
Dane O'Neill, retained by the horse's owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, elects to ride Haatheq for Al Raihe. Both look very capable of a big run in a race. Treble Jig, like Russian Rock, heads the weights for the Al Muhairi-Wayne Smith combination.
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