Twelve of the world's best race riders will be in action tonight when they contest the inaugural Meydan Masters, the final event on the International Racing Carnival.
Moore leads all-star cast
DUBAI // Twelve of the world's best race riders will be in action tonight when they contest the inaugural Meydan Masters, the final event on the International Racing Carnival calendar before the Dubai World Cup. Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Richard Hills are among the jockeys invited to take part in the competition that will feature the winning riders of the world's 12 premier races of 2009.
"This challenge is like no other," said Malih al Basti, the Meydan Racecourse board member. "We have invited 12 jockeys who have won the most acclaimed races of 2009 and they will compete against each other." Other riders include Ted Durcan, winner of the St Leger, Ahmed Ajtebi, the Breeders' Cup winner, and Olivier Peslier, who piloted Vision D'Etat to victory at the Hong Kong Cup. Aaron Gryder, who rode Well Armed to a record 14-length victory in the 2009 World Cup, Jamie Spencer, who won the Irish Oaks on Sariska and Japanese Derby winner, Norihiro Yokoyama also make the cut.
Christophe Lemaire, who claimed the Prix du Jockey Club on Le Havre, will be in action, Corey Brown, the Melbourne Cup winner, will make his first appearance in Dubai while Kent Desormeaux, the Belmont Stakes-winning jockey, will complete the line-up. Mick Kinane would have been an automatic invite, following his extraordinary exploits in tandem with Sea the Stars, but his retirement prevented him from competing.
However, the Dubai Racing Club have ensured he is involved by handing him an ambassadorial role this evening. Four races on the seven-contest card will make up the Meydan Masters schedule and riders are assigned horses by ballot, with many facing the prospect of sitting on their runner for the first time as they leave the parade ring. Jockeys will be awarded points for the positions in which they finish each race. The rider with the most points wins.
"It's great to have this type of competition in Dubai," said Hills, who partners Herman Brown's Lui Rei in the first race of the evening. "We haven't seen a jockeys' championship for a long time here, not since the first two seasons of racing, and it's great that we are starting again." Desormeaux, who said he was going to try to walk the track this morning, admitted Tapeta was a new surface for him.
"I've never ridden on Tapeta, I've never even walked on it," he said. "But that's part of the challenge of these events. These competitions are fun, but you'd better believe we all want to win every race. "Once we get to that final bend we'll all be going for it and it will be a great spectacle." Brown has been partnered with Luca Cumani's Swop, providing him with the opportunity to make amends for the narrow 2008 Melbourne Cup defeat aboard Cumani's Bauer. "I'll have the chance to make it up to him," said Brown. "It's tough to lose that race by a nose, that's for sure." @Email:email@example.com