x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

After four meetings, Tapeta's creator pronounces it a winner

he months running up to the opening of Meydan Racecourse were patricularly nerve-wracking for Michael Dickinson, the man who invented the synthetic track that will be used for the world's richest horse race this year.

DUBAI // The months running up to the opening of Meydan Racecourse were patricularly nerve-wracking for Michael Dickinson, the man who invented the synthetic track that will be used for the world's richest horse race this year. Now, after four meetings at the US$1billion (Dh3,673bn) venue, Dickinson has pronounced himself happy with his creation. The Englishman, a former jockey turned champion National Hunt trainer and Breeders' Cup winner when preparing flat horses in the US, has been on hand to oversee the development of his Tapeta track.

"I have lists of jockeys and trainers and I have been getting their opinions," said Dickinson, who can be found at either the Tapeta training track or Meydan Racecourse track most mornings. "We have been taking what they say on board." The synthetic track is designed to cushion horses' legs and feet and help avoid injuries and breakdowns during training and racing, and Dickinson said it had been favourably received.

"I am delighted and relieved that the track is performing as I had hoped," he said following the fourth Carnival meeting. "It is a learning curve and we have been eager to speak to everyone who trains or rides on the surface. "The track had been reported to be a little slow last week, but we took those opinions on board and have rectified that. I spoke to every one of the jockeys after the first race on Thursday and they were unanimous that the track was performing well."

Dickinson also points out that the track is riding fair. "We have had wire-to-wire victories and horses coming from behind to win. We have also seen horses win from the rail and down the centre of the track and I believe that it is a fair track. I think that after last week we now have the track spot-on." The Tapeta will be used for meetings on Thursday and Friday and also for the 15th Dubai World Cup on March 27, this year worth a record US$10 million (Dh36.7m).

stregoning@thenational.ae