x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Starting gate for the Dubai World Cup

UAE horse racing season gets under way at Jebel Ali on Friday with a six-race card.

The season culminates at Meydan Racecourse on March 29 at the Dubai World Cup. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
The season culminates at Meydan Racecourse on March 29 at the Dubai World Cup. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

Amith Passela

The country’s much-anticipated racing season will culminate with the grand finale, the Dubai World Cup, on March 29 – five months and 57 race meetings from tomorrow.

Competition for the first time will be held across five racecourses – Meydan, Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali, Sharjah, and Al Ain, the new addition to the line-up.

The gates open of a busy season with a six-race card at Jebel Ali followed, on Saturday, by another six-race card at Sharjah.

Meydan will stage the first of its 20 meetings on November 7, while Abu Dhabi kicks off its campaign two days later.

Abu Dhabi’s opening meeting will see three prestigious prizes for the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship, the European Apprentice Racing School (Ears) championship, and the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup.

The ladies championship will be contested by the winners of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak race series from around the world, while the Ears will see the champion apprentice jockeys from Europe vying for honours in Abu Dhabi.

The 2013/2014 season also sees racing make its debut at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. The first meeting at the Garden City is scheduled for January 31. The other meetings are on February 14 and 28, and March 14 and 20.

The high point, as in every season, is the Dubai World Cup meeting with US$27.25 million (Dh100m) splashed across nine races.

The countdown for it begins with the Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) worth $37m spread across 14 races, from January 9 to the Super Saturday meeting – the dress rehearsal of the grand finale meeting.

Martin Talty, the international manager at Dubai Racing Club, says changes have been made to further refine and develop the DWCC.

The DWCC meeting’s Dubai Gold Cup upgrades to Group 2, and the Meydan Sprint to Group 3, and a new distance and slot has been arranged for the Group 2 1,400m Al Fahidi Fort.

“We wanted to develop our 1,400m programme and noted that there were not many races of the status of the Al Fahidi Fort over that distance around the world,” he said.

“We wanted to open the race up a bit so that it ties in with the Zabeel Mile held five weeks later, which can be used to prep for Dubai World Cup-day races.”

The upgraded Dubai Millennium would give trainers extra options when prepping for valuable Group 1 races on Dubai World Cup day, Talty said. The 2,000m race is named after the great horse of the same name, and will be run on February 20.

“The horses can use it to prepare for any of the three final races on the Dubai World Cup-day card, the Dubai Duty Free, the Dubai Sheema Classic or the Dubai World Cup,” Talty said.

“The Gold Cup … was also earmarked for future growth. It is a race that has become attractive to trainers with stayers from around the world and, hopefully, in years to come it will take another step up to a Group 1, adding further value to the Dubai World Cup card.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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