x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Ain all set to join courses for horse racing in the UAE

New venue will see five days of action as Emirates Racing Authority releases calendar while Godolphin mull Libertarian's options, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Jockeys prepare racehorses in early morning trackwork at Meydan Racecourse, which will see 20 days of action, including the Dubai World Cup, this season. Ali Haider / EPA
Jockeys prepare racehorses in early morning trackwork at Meydan Racecourse, which will see 20 days of action, including the Dubai World Cup, this season. Ali Haider / EPA
Al Ain's five fixtures will take the number of race meetings in the UAE to 57 this season, the Emirates Racing Authority said on Wednesday.

Al Ain will become the fifth racecourse in the UAE when the Al Nakheel Equestrian Club hosts its first race day at the new facility, on November 30.

The new racecourse provides the only additional meetings this season. The dates for the upcoming UAE racing season were ratified by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and chairman of the Emirates Racing Authority.

Jebel Ali has 11 fixtures and will bring up the curtain on the UAE season on November 1 and will be followed by one of Sharjah's six meetings the next day.

The first of Meydan Racecourse's 20 meetings will take place on November 7, while the Dubai World Cup Carnival starts at Meydan on January 9. Super Saturday will be staged at the UAE's flagship track on March 8, and the Carnival culminates with the Dubai World Cup night on March 29.

Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, which played such an important role in Ernst Oertel's bid to be champion trainer last season, gets underway on November 10 and has 15 fixtures, second only to Meydan.

"We look forward to welcoming all the horse owners, trainers and jockeys that will be competing in our racing season," Saeed Al Tayer, the Emirates Racing Authority vice chairman, said.

Elsewhere, three Godolphin horses remained among the 19 possible runners for the English St Leger at Doncaster Racecourse at the latest scratching stage on Wednesday.

Charlie Appleby's Libertarian remained in the September 14 contest alongside Cap O'Rushes and Secret Number, who also hail from Moulton Paddocks.

Libertarian, however, is also among five possible runners in the Prix Niel at Longchamp the following day, which could mean the English Derby runner-up is in line for a run at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

"He's back in training now, and if he makes the St Leger that's great but we are not going to push him to get there," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said.

"He's a young horse and has it all ahead of him."

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