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Excitement levels growing as flat-season moves up a gear

Season has provided a large share of entertainment in both the jockey’s and trainer’s ranks

Gulf News

Dubai: There appears to be a perceptible shift in the energy and excitement as the UAE flat racing season steps up a gear as 2017 draws to a close.

Is it because the sport’s die-hard fans have become less impatient and are happy to enoy the domestic season before it is consumed by the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the beginning of the New Year. Or is it that the one-going battles between the top jockeys and trainers have touched urban hearts and consequently pushed the threshold of expectation to a higher level.

Whichever way you look at it the season, thus far, has provided more than its traditional share of entertainment in both the jockey’s and trainer’s ranks.

Pat Cosgrave has set the pace in the race of the jockey’s championship with former champion Tadhg O’Shea, Pat Dobbs and Richard Mullen in hot pursuit.

Richard Mullen, Antonio Fresu and the surprise package, Connor Beasley, add to the considerable depth among the riders who are currently based in Dubai and serving the 50-plus trainers.

UAE flat-racing is richly endowed with top horses, both Thoroughbred and Purebred Arabians, thanks, to a large extent, because of the increasingly popular horse sales, the latest of which will be held on Monday.

Sponsored, as always by Al Basti Equiworld, the Horses in Training December Sale will feature 50 lots consigned by several UAE based handlers.

Given the heightening level of interest in flat racing at this point on time in the country, we can expect the auction to be a well-supported and competitive affair.

One of the highest horses going under the hammer is the five-year-old Boarding Party who made a promising debut for Doug Watson in March last year when he ran second in a maiden at Meydan. He boats a rating of 100 on both turf and dirt, and mindless of his lack of success, could attract a fair amount of attention in the sales ring.

Whatever happens, and whichever horse exchanges hands come Monday, the benefactor will be the UAE racing circuit which is growing in terms of new owners.

Owners are the ones who invest their passion into the sport by buying a horse. And the more passionate owners that a sport like horse racing has will help build on the strong foundation that has been laid, based on trust and viability.

Meydan. Jebel Ali and Sharjah stage the final meetings of the year after a small recess for Christmas.

January, 2018 is packed with 19 race meetings at all the Emirates’ racecourses, but the one most afficianados will have their binoculars riveted on will be the January 11 meeting at Meydan, the opening day of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Featuring the opening legs of the Al Maktoum series for Arabians and Thoroughbreds, the meeting will catapult all and sundry to lofty level with the arrival of the international challengers.

I can almost feel the energy and excitement growing…