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It’s that time of year again

Get ready for some top class flat racing as focus shifts to the UAE

Gulf News

Without any further ado, let’s talk about the brilliant racing lurking around the corner. And I’m not taking F1 —  that’s a different cup of tea.

What we have before us are two of the most exciting international race days on the calendar coupled with the start of the new UAE Flat racing season, which kicks-off tomorrow.

Most of us horse racing buffs will be making our way down to our favourite racecourse at Jebel Ali to witness the start of a season that we hope will be as exciting, if not even better, than the last one. We’re always hopeful when it comes to horse racing in the Emirates with so many exciting things happening every new season.

Who can forget the unbelievable four wins that Kilt Rock prized out at Jebel Ali, a feat only matched by three other horses — Mujaazef, Mushreq and Jamr? Russian Rock and Trebel Jig were also hugely popular winners.

Among the Purebred Arabians, Versac PY strung together an incredible six wins while Sahib Du Clos was not far behind with four visits to the winner’s enclosure.

Wayne Smith and Tadhg O’Shea narrowly outshone resident jockey James Doyle at the venue while veteran Jebel Ali handler Dhruba Selvaratnam was only just eclipsed by champion Ali Rashid Al Raihe and former champ Doug Watson.

We can expect more fireworks from these racing doyens in the coming months, but for the moment, we’ll be turning our attention to Santa Anita in Californian for the Breeders’ Cup meeting on Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s races feature an attractive card, but the “real” action takes place on Saturday with nine scintillating races for all types of horses — young and old, male and female — over all sorts of distances.

This year the Breeders’ Cup will perhaps be watched more closely by race fans in the Emirates what with several UAE-owned horses holding genuine chances of winning. If you ask me I’d really like to see Kiaran McLaughlin get on the winner’s podium as much as I would like Mahmoud Al Zarouni put his hands on another big prize.

Kiaran’s such a nice guy who is so committed to his profession that he deserves the kind of success that meetings like the Breeders’ Cup offer.

Mahmoud. What can we say about him? Who can forget the coup he pulled off with Monterosso in March by winning the $10 million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup. You can’t put it past him as he’s a guy with genuine credentials. They talk of people having “green fingers”, or those who can put their hand to anything and make it happen. Mahmoud comes across as that sort of guy. Give him a horse and he can make it do things.

So, I’m putting my money on him when he saddles Artigiano.