Dubai: Jebel Ali Racecourse will embark on an ambitious campaign to engage with young people and encourage them to get involved in the sport of horse racing.

As the historic venue prepares to stage its first race meeting of the 2019-2020 UAE flat-racing season on Friday, a call went out to recognise youth as an important demographic in the further development and sustainability of the sport.

Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, said: “We have learnt that the children are valuable to the future of the sport as they have the ability to be creative, think ahead and influence decisions among their friends and family.

“The youth are culturally relevant and this is something that horse racing can benefit from. Shaikh Hamdan has long been a supporter of youth, in education and sport, and is continually investing in methods to transport them forward to a bright adulthood.”

Sheikh Hamdan, one of the world’s most successful and influential horse owners and breeders, is the principal patron of Jebel Ali Racecourse, which will stage 11 race meetings during the season.

During race days, which take place on alternate Friday’s at the Jebel Ali track, children and schools can participate in horse painting competitions, which offer attractive prizes.

“Following the instructions of Sheikh Hamdan we started this venture many years ago during the Dubai International Arabian race day at Newbury Racecourse in the UK, and it was instantly a success,” revealed Al Sayegh. “We created an art project whereby primary school pupils were given an opportunity to express themselves by painting life-size horses.

“Sheikh Hamdan is very interested in encouraging the next generation involved in the sport by loving the horse and these painting competitions are a successful method.

“We will introduce this event at Jebel Ali Racecourse for the first time with more than Dh60,000 to be distributed to the winning schools and artists.”

Meanwhile, Jebel Ali Racecourse manager Shareef Al Halawani, thanked Major General Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, and owner of Jebel Ali Racecourse for his support and encouragement.

Al Halawani also thanked Pillar Partners Shadwell and Derrinstown Stud, the breeding arms of Shaikh Hamdan’s global racing operation. and said that all plans were in place to stage another successful season at the ‘Family’ racecourse.

“We are very excited and look forward to welcoming some of the best horses, jockeys and trainers to our racecourse,” he said. “Jebel Ali offers a sporting environment like no other and you can feel the buzz with the first race day just around the corner.”

Friday’s seven-race card will be sponsored by Shadwell, Orient Irrigation, Ascana, Al Shafar Investment, Al Redha Insurance Brokers, CBD and S. I. S, UK