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The Jebel Ali surface has been given the thumbs up after the recent rains. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Despite the heavy showers that had hit the UAE on Sunday, leaving several areas waterlogged, Jebel Ali Racecourse received a general thumbs-up from officials ahead of Friday’s second meeting of the season at the popular venue.

Trainer Nicholas Bachalard, who is based at Jebel Ali, said the track remain safe and in good condition to meet with the demands of hosting seven races.

“The feedback we received after the opening meeting was that the track was on the soft to good side, so we tweaked it a bit,” he said during a press conference at the venue. “The rains have not affected the surface and we are confident that it will ride well on Friday.”

The meeting sees the return of the popular Purebred Arabian series, formerly run under the banner of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.

This is the first of four races dedicated to the breed and, true to character, it has attracted a full field of 16 runners and three reserves.

Arabian racing is traditionally staged at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain racecourses, while Jebel Ali supports the breed by hosting a well-supported series with Al Sahel Contracting Co lending their backing to the first of the races.

“It’s always good to see Arabian racing staged alongside a thoroughbred card,” said Yasir Mabrouk, representing the Emirates Racing Authority in his capacity as Clerk of the Course.

“The Arabian racing scene is very aggressive with hundreds of horses bred each year. The quality of the breed is getting stronger each year and races like these go a long way to supporting the breeding industry in the UAE.”

Shareef Al Halawani, Manager, Jebel Ali Racecourse, also welcomed the Arabian racing fraternity to the venue and said that they were always happy to support the sport, which has deep roots in the UAE.

“Jebel Ali Racecourse is always open to Arabian horses and their connections,” he said. “Every time we have a race for them, sponsors are willing to come forward to lend their support. So this shows just how popular the races are.”

Al Halawani also noted that Dubai Real Estate Centre will support two races on the card, while the feature race of the afternoon will be sponsored, as has now become a tradition, by Shadwell Farm, the breeding arm of Shaikh Hamdan’s thoroughbred and Arabian racing empire.

He also revealed that Major General Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, who owns Jebel Ali Racecourse, is encouraging the managing committee to strive for more excellence and to maintain a high standard of facilities at the venue.

“Sheikh Ahmad is keen on keeping Jebel Ali Racecourse at the forefront of racing in the UAE,” Al Halawani said.

“With his support and encouragement, together with the continuous sponsorship of Sheikh Hamdan through Shadwell, we are able to achieve success, year after year at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

“We also thank all our sponsors, including Al Shafar Investment, Dubai Refreshment (PJSC) and Serve U, for their ongoing support at Jebel Ali.”

“We look forward to another enjoyable afternoon’s racing and entertainment on Friday.”