Dubai: The year 2015 saw a sea change taking place at Meydan after the management decided that the synthetic racing surface, installed for the opening of the racecourse in 2010, will be replaced with a traditional dirt track.
The decision was taken with the belief that it will be best for the future of Meydan racing and the Dubai World Cup Carnival and the 20th running of the Dubai World Cup.
The track was a natural dirt surface that proved so successful during the first 14 years of racing at the former Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
Dirt was sweet music to Red Stables-based American handler Doug Watson, who would narrowly upstage his perennial Carnival rivals, Saeed Bin Surour and Satish Seemar and emerge as the most successful trainer at Meydan with 17 wins, one better than Bin Surour and Seemar, respectively.
However, Watson was unable to stave off a very determined Musabbeh Al Mheiri in the race for the overall UAE trainer’s championshop, finishing runner-up to the Oasis 1 Stables who sent out 49 winners. Watson sent out 42 winners.
Al Mheiri also unveiled a Meydan superstar in the form of Tamarkuz who galloped to four victories on the new dirt surface, which culminated in a roaring success in the $1 million Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.
South African handler Mike de Kock always turned up with a high-quality string at the Carnival and the leader of the pack was the irish-bred Mubtaahij, who streaked to four victories during the 10-week Carnival. His top performance came in the UAE Derby, where he came home an eight length winner over the Godolphin-trained Maftool.
It was also a very special year for veteran UAE-based French handler Erwan Charpy, who won a first Dubai Kahayla Classic (Group 1) with Manark, ridden by Dane O’Neill in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Prince Bishop gave Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour yet another Dubai World Cup victory while Richard Mullen, who lives Dubai, won the UAE jockey’s title.