Dubai: The second season at the new Meydan Racecourse belonged to Emriti handler Ali Rashid Al Rayhi who realized a long-sought after goal of becoming the champion trainer in the UAE.
Al Rayhi, a former bareback jockey and veteran horseman, saddled 30 winners to jointly top the table with his brother-in-law, Musabeh Al Muheri at the end of a hugely competitive season.
However, Al Rayhi was declared the champion on the basis of having saddled more runner-ups, 30, to Al Muheiri’s 15.
Both Al Rayhi and Al Muheiri train out of horseracing headquarters at Nad Al Sheba where they are neighbours. The former is based at the Grandstand Stables while Al Muheiri is across the wall at his Oasis 1 Stables.
“I could not be happier to have finished second to my good friend and brother-in-law,” Al Muhaieir said at the time. “We are close, very close, but we don’t discuss racing. In the sport we remain competitive.
“It’s a friendly competition that we have enjoyed and kept it that way for years. However, every time he has a winner, I’m very happy and every time I have a winner, he is happy.
“We encourage each other to perform at the best of our abilities and this is what makes our relationship special.”
Al Rayhi is an industrious, hands-on operator. He is well-supported by his longtime assistant Siddiqui Jilani, who plays a key role communicating Al Rayhi’s instructions to the grooms, riding boys and jockey.
They have formed a highly cohesive team and it is this common ground that they share that saw them victorious.
Grandstand Stables were well served by two horses owned by its chief patron, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance - Derbaas and Haateq. Between them, they won seven races during the season, with Haateq being an unlucky runner-up on five occasions.
Haateq had a hard campaign and was a very consistent performer and his biggest win that year was Leg 1 of the Meydan Master Handicap over a mile.
Derbaas was equally prolific, winning four races in succession on the Meydan Tapeta track which culminated in the Group 3 Al Fahidi Fort victory.
Al Rayhi had grand hopes for the son of Seeking The Gold and entered him in the Group 1 Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup night.
However, Derbaas did not look like the Meydan specialist that he come to be known as and ran well below expectations - finishing last of 16 behind the British raider Previs.
The year 2011 at Meydan also saw history being made in the Dubai World Cup (G1). Victoire Pisa, a four-year-old colt trained in Japan by Katsuhiko Sumii and ridden by Mirco Demuro, became the first winner in the race for his jockey, trainer and owner - and the first for a horse trained in Japan!