And so the event we all have been waiting for is finally here!
In less than four days time the starting gates at Meydan racecourse will fly open for the first race of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival. And what an opening day it is going to be.
Besides four competitive handicaps, the six-race card features the first round of the prestigious Al Maktoum Challenge, one of the highlights of the UAE racing calendar that has been won by top horses like Halling (1995), Spindrift (1999), China Visit (2001), State Shinto (2004) and Mendip (2011).
The thing about races like these is that they always seem to bring out the best in a horse. Who can forget the performance Musir put on to win this pot-boiler of a mile twelve months ago. Some of the most notable trainers like five-time winner Saeed Bin Surour make winning this race one of their top priorities each year. And 2012 was no different with South African trainer-great Mike de Kock’s Musir being challenged by the likes of Bin Surour’s Secrecy and Mendip, while local hero Ali Rashid Al Raihe had Derbaas in tip-top condition to challenge for the $250,000 purse.
However, it was de Kock who drew first blood in the three-leg Al Maktoum series when former UAE Derby winner Musir ran out a comfortable three length winner over stable companion Master Of Hounds. Musir would go on the win the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, whose trail is the traditional main support race on the opening night of the Carnival.
Do Kock’s Mahbooba bagged the trial last season and added the Group 2 Balanchine to his resume.
So by the looks of it we’re all set for an exciting opening day’s action at the flagship Meydan racecourse which if you remember was voted the second most important sports venue globally in 2010 by the internationally recognised SportsPro magazine.
Over 100 global sporting venues were analysed by the publication’s editorial team before they gave Meydan the nod. And fittingly as well for not too many racecourses in the world can boast the kind of facilities and atmosphere that Meydan has, particularly during the Carnival when all the big names in the sport descend on Dubai.
Already we are told that close to a 100 international thoroughbred stars from the four corners of the earth have arrived in Dubai to compete in the Carnival’s 11 meetings that lead up to the brilliant Dubai World Cup on March 30.
With the Tapeta race track reportedly in the best condition it has even been since it was laid down over three seasons ago, and the turf track running perfectly, the omens could not be better for three terrific months of racing that not only takes the UAE by storm, but in effect, all racing fans around the world.