Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Meydan Racecourse in Duabi ready to get dirty for opening races

Jockeys and trainers have given positive feedback on the new dirt track before Thursday's opening races, reports Amith Passela.
Belshazzar gallops on the new dirt track surface at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai during the morning session on Wednesday. Pawan Singh / The National
Belshazzar gallops on the new dirt track surface at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai during the morning session on Wednesday. Pawan Singh / The National

The four-year-old Meydan Racecourse opens a new chapter on Thursday night with their first meeting on dirt.

After the artificial Tapeta surface was removed earlier this year, a test run on the dirt track last night, with horses successfully galloping over 1,400 metres and 1,600m under race conditions.

“The feedback from trainers and jockeys has been positive and we are excited about the new season,” said Frank Gabriel, the executive director of the Dubai Racing Club.

“This is an important season for us as we will stage the 20th running of the Dubai World Cup and we look forward to welcoming top international horses to compete on the surface during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and on Dubai World Cup day.”

Jockey Richard Mullen, who rode in both the trials, said he had no complaints about the newly laid surface, and was encouraged by what he had seen.

“It is a little bit slower than what’s it going to be, but that’s only natural because it’s the first time we have been here,” he said.

“In the first trial, I was only a length-and-a-half behind the leader. I didn’t get the kick-back at all. That’s a very good sign.

“If you were a length-and-a-half behind at the old Nad Al Sheba, you know about it.

“The only thing I can say now is that it is a bit slower than it’s going to ride, but give it a month or two. It’s going to tighten up with more horses to get on it, like in any other track.”

Doug Watson, the former UAE champion trainer, echoed the views of Mullen in believing that the jockeys and horses would quickly adapt to the new conditions.

“The jockeys were very happy because the kick-back wasn’t bad,” he said.

“Each week it’s going to get better, but right now, I am very happy to run my horses on the opening night.

“With the dirt surfaces, we know what to do between races and how to get ready for the races. It is very similar to the old track at Nad Al Sheba.

“It had a bit little more bit of clay on it, but this is a really nice track, nice texture and seems a very nice, safe track for everybody.”

Meydan is scheduled to host 19 races over the 2014/15 UAE racing season, the most of any racecourse in the country.

The season culminates with the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 28 at Meydan.

Tonight’s opening meeting at the track consists of six races, including a handicap rated 90-100.

Doug Watson is doubled handed in the 1,900-metre race with Storm Belt and Henry Clay.

The American, who won both the trial races on Tuesday with Faulkner and Dr Faustus, is in a positive frame of mind ahead of the new season.

Storm Belt and Henry Clay already have three dirt wins to their credit and the former is the choice of the stable jockey Pat Dobbs.

“I am looking forward to running them both,” Watson said. “They have both been working well and the surface should not be an issue, as they work on dirt and both have won on dirt.

“They seem in great shape, so we have to be hopeful of big efforts from both.”


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Updated: November 5, 2014 04:00 AM