Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Dirt expert is sorry to see the switch to a synthetic surface

The decision to lay down a synthetic track at Meydan to replace Nad al Sheba's dirt was welcomed by most but Doug Watson, a dirt specialist from the United States, will miss the old track.

The decision to lay down a synthetic track at Meydan to replace Nad al Sheba's dirt was welcomed by most but Doug Watson, a dirt specialist from the United States, will miss the old track. "I was sad to see it go," he said. "I'm from the US where dirt racing is popular and you have some major races on dirt. "Synthetic tracks, like tapeta [an artificial all-weather surface], are turning racing into something more akin to turf racing because as a surface it is different for horses to run on.

"There are problems with dirt tracks but there are also problems with synthetic surfaces and you can have just as many injuries, whatever the surface you race on." In the last few years, many racetracks around the world, especially in the USA, have installed synthetic surfaces to replace dirt after research indicated that they were kinder to horses and did not cause as many breakdowns during racing.

Watson, however, says that synthetic surfaces have their problems too. "There may not have been as many breakdowns, but horses still get injured. And the dirt surface at Nad al Sheba was one of the safest in the world," he said. "There is a skill to training on dirt, but having said that, there are horses that will go better on synthetic." Watson says the new surface may encourage trainers from Europe, where turf racing is king, to come to the Meydan development.

"The way they have set up Meydan is going to appeal to European trainers and I think that was the intention," he said. "From my point of view it is always a good thing to have different trainers and new horses coming over here for the big races to test your own runners."

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National