Nicholas Bachalard
Trainer Nicholas Bachalard and Jebel Ali Racecourse manager Shareef Al Halwani in a file photo. Image Credit: Leslie Wilson Jr/Gulf News

Dubai: Jebel Ali Racecourse hosts its fourth meeting of the season on Friday when the popular venue celebrates the UAE’s 48th National Day with a feast of seven races, including a maiden race for two-year-olds.

Most of the races are well-filled and competitive, which makes for a totally interesting afternoon’s racing interspaced with entertainment and activities to mark the country’s special day.

Romeo Interiors Factory, who have been associated with the racecourse since it was built in the early nineties, are the sponsors of the feature race, which has drawn a full field of 16 runners.

Resident Jebel Ali conditioner, Nicholas Bachalard, is two-handed in the 1200-metre contest with Call To War (Tadhg O’Shea) and Yalawin (Fernando Jara). The latter is an interesting campaigner, as he makes his UAE racecourse debut after a gap of over two years since he was raced by trainer Roger Varian in England.

Owned by Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, the five-year-old Irish-bred gelding is a lightly raced horse, who has been beset with fitness issues.

Winner of his maiden at Ripon, England in Mary 2017, Yalawin is finally making his reappearance to the racecourse in an ultra-competitive handicap.

“It took us about two years to get him fit and ready to return to the racecourse,” said Bachalard. “He’s a nice horse who had some decent form in the UK. But he’s had his fair share of problems

“He’s ready and joins Call of War in what looks a very tough race.

“It’s nice to get some of the older horses in our yard back to the racecourse, but it remains to be seen how competitive they are,” he added.

The Frenchman is responsible for three other runners on the card — Top Clearance, who takes his chances in a handicap over a mile and Tobrave who runs in the maiden race.

“Top Clearance we’ve brought back to a mile because I think his hasn’t been finishing his races the way he should over longer trips,” said Bachalard.

“We’ve also put a pair of blinkers on to help him focus better. We hope that the cut back in distance will work well for him and hope he runs well.

“He doesn’t carry the weight that he’s been carrying in the past which is usually top weight. So I guess a few kilos down will help him,” he added.

“He will also have to behave in the gate as well. We’ve schooled him and he was good in the morning but sometimes on race day it’s a different thing altogether.

Commenting on Tobrave’s chances, Bachalard said: “He’s been knocking on the door for some time.

He’s no superstar but he always runs a good race. He’s a decent sort who we hope with a little bit of luck can win his maiden.”

Jebel Ali Racecourse will be all decked up to celebrate National Day with a host of entertainment on the cards for its regular visitors.