Shadwell Mirza Al Sayegh (sixth from left), Shareef Al Halawani (fifth from left), Yasir Mabrouk (right) and officials at a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s season opner at Jebel Ali. Image Credit: Courtesy: Abdalla Khalifa

Dubai: The 2018-2019 flat racing season at Jebel Ali Racecourse, which kicks-off on Thursday, is set to be a bigger and better experience for the legion of racing fans.

Renowned for its ‘Garden Party’ atmosphere, Jebel Ali Racecourse will host 12 meetings this term, which will feature an extra seventh race on each day which comes as a response to the demand for more racing opportunities by owners and trainers.

Meanwhile, the management for the racecourse, which was built in 1990, announced that its core sponsors have announced their commitment to supporting the venue all through the season.

Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, one of the world’s most influential owner-breeders, confirmed Shaikh Hamdan’s continuing support to Jebel Ali Racecourse.

“Shaikh Hamdan has always been a massive fan of Jebel Ali Racecourse and remains a committed supporter,” said Al Sayegh at the official press conference to announce the sponsors for the opening race meeting.

“Shaikh Hamdan is committed to sponsoring three full cards and all the feature races on the remaining race days. We have been heavily involved with Jebel Ali Racecourse for a very long time and we are so pleased to sponsor races here.

“We have even told the organisers that should any of the other sponsors back out for whatever reason, we are willing to step in as an alternative sponsor,” added Al Sayegh, who is also the Chairman of Shadwell Stud, Shaikh Hamdan’s breeding empire, which is a massive sponsor of racing at Jebel Ali.

“Jebel Ali Racecourse is a very positive thing for our sport.”

Jebel Ali Racecourse was built in 1990 by Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security. It was designed on the style of a right-handed Epsom Racecourse, home to the English Derby.

Al Sayegh attends most meeting at Jebel Ali as the Shadwell representative and he said Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Ahmad were always keen to see the racing and facilities flourishing.

Racecourse manager, Shareef Al Halawani, commented: “We are very grateful to Shaikh Hamdan and Shadwell, as well as all our other pillar sponsors.

“Without their invaluable support we would not be able to stage such competitive racing with a consistent increase in standard, both on and off the track.”

Yasir Mabrouk, Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) Master of Apprentices and Clerk of the Scales, added: “We, the ERA always look forward to the Jebel Ali meetings, which are always competitive and provide opportunities for horses of all abilities.

“Friday to be a great day of racing with a lot more planned throughout the season including an extended season that will run into April. It is great to see the crowds that come here week after week to soak up the action.”