x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dirt to be taken off Dubai races

The world's richest horse race will be run on a synthetic track for the first time this season at the landmark Meydan development.

DUBAI // The world's richest horse race will be run on a synthetic track for the first time this season as Dubai Racing Club announced that a tapeta surface would be installed at the landmark Meydan development. The Dubai World Cup, held on March 27, 2010 and worth a record US$10 million (Dh36.7m), was widely expected to be run on tapeta after a training track of the same surface was installed at the end of last season. The announcement marks the end of the dirt racing era at Nad al Sheba, although racing will still take place on the horseshoe-shaped dirt at Jebel Ali.

Tapeta, latin for carpet, will cover the 1,750m all-weather track and is positioned inside the new turf track. "The tapeta surface has proven to be safe and reliable and has shown outstanding durability in this climate, having already been in place at the Meydan training track," said the Dubai Racing Club (DRC) chief executive, Frank Gabriel Jnr. "We look forward to a brand new era of racing at the upcoming 2010 Dubai International Racing Carnival and the Dubai World Cup with this new all-weather surface course."

The UAE has followed the move away from dirt tracks which began in the US, as synthetic surfaces are considered by many to be safer for horses. Trainer, Mike de Kock, has long supported a synthetic track at Meydan. "Whatever they put in will be better than the dirt that was there before which was not kind to horses," he said. "A synthetic surface will also attract more top-quality trainers from Europe to the UAE, and you always want to test your horses against the best in the world."

There are still a number of big European races before the racing world's attention focuses back on Dubai for the winter season and UAE connections are in action today as they compete at Newmarket. Godolphin saddle three in the Group Three Nayef Joel Stakes, with Frankie Dettori riding first choice, Rio de la Plata, who has a lot to prove after a finishing 10 of 10 on his last Listed mile outing at Haydock following 14 months off.

A 2008 Group One horse, Rio de la Plata is well-regarded by Godolphin and was said by racing manager Simon Crisford to have struggled with soft going. Ted Durcan rides Donativum while Ahmed Ajtebi starts on Young Pretender. stregoning@thenational.ae