x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Problems surface over Tapeta at Meydan Racecourse

But the inventor is optimistic track will be less tiring for horses during the winter.

The Tapeta at Meydan Racecourse, which returned slow times last week, is likely to 'tighten up'. Mike Young / The National
The Tapeta at Meydan Racecourse, which returned slow times last week, is likely to 'tighten up'. Mike Young / The National

Tapeta inventor Michael Dickinson says the artificial surface at Meydan Racecourse will bed down over the next few weeks after renovations during the summer saw the track ride slow at the first meeting of the season.

Dickinson, who was speaking at the opening of a new training track he has installed in Scotland, oversaw a refurbishment of the surface at the Dubai track in September, alongside Frank Gabriel, the chief executive of the Dubai Racing Club.

The Tapeta returned slow times last week, and the surface appeared to tire out early leaders. Five of the six winners came from off the pace until Harry Bentley drove Garbah to a tactically brilliant front-running ride to seal a three-timer in the last race.

"We are happy with the surface, and I spoke to jockeys after the races," Dickinson said, having opened a five-and-a-half furlong gallop at James Ewart's yard. "It wasn't a fast surface and it will tighten up during the winter."

Lion Sands registered his first win in the UAE from 19 starts when swooping late under Jesus Rosales in the Arabian Adventures handicap, the third race on the card. According to the positional data produced by Trakus, Lion Sands pounced from seventh place, while El Muqbil, the runner-up, was 10th after 800 metres of the 1,900m contest.

The performance of Lion Sands was the extreme of the night, however, as the other four winners that came from behind were generally placed more prominently.

Gabriel said that the surface had been turned over, and highlighted that the track was in need of the work. In the lead-up to the Dubai World Cup meeting in March, the last time the track was used, several visiting horsemen criticised the surface.

John Moore, the Hong Kong trainer, called it "sticky", while Yutake Take, the Japanese rider who boasts Group 1 wins in five countries, believed "more power" was needed from the it.

"We've made some renovations and have refurbished the surface," Gabriel said. "In August and September we added some fibres to the main track and the training track.

"We have added about a half an inch, which is no different to a dirt track which you add to every year or other year because you lose material.

"We are just staying on top of it to prevent wear and tear."

Gabriel said that the turf track, which will not be used until the Dubai World Cup Carnival starts in January, has also been worked on. The turf course comprises Bermuda grass, a drought-resistant grass that is perfect for the soaring temperatures in the Emirates.

The turf track has been laced with peat moss, which retains moisture and prevents weed growth.

"The main thing is that the course has matured over the past two and a half years," Gabriel said. "We have finally got there and it has made a big difference."

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