The Meydan Racecourse Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: Despite the postponement or suspension of several sporting events around the world, the decision by the Dubai Racing Club (DRC) to go ahead with this month’s mega 25th Dubai World Cup meeting, following the advice of the UAE government, is a very positive move.

However, the announcement, which was released to the media on Thursday evening, makes it very clear that the general public and paid hospitality spectators will not be allowed to attend the race day at Meydan Racecourse on March 28.

The official statement which was released at approximately 10.30pm states that the decision was taken ‘due to the ongoing global health implications of the COVID-10 Coronavirus and the precautionary measure being implement by the UAE government’.

It further says that all supporting Dubai World Cup events, including the Post Position Draw (March 25), Breakfast with the Stars (March 26) and Welcome Reception (March 26), have been cancelled.

Race day events, including entertainment and the traditional post-race concerts, have also been cancelled.

The DRC statement advises that only horse connections (owners etc), racing officials, accredited media and sponsors will be permitted entry.

However, all nine races scheduled for the big day will be contested and regulated in a standard fashion. Results will be recorded in an official capacity.

Veteran UAE-based trainer and multiple champion Satish Seemar welcomed the decision to go ahead with the Dubai World Cup meeting as planned.

“The welfare of spectators, officials and staff is of paramount importance,” said Seemar. “However, it is important for such a big event, and the continuity of the sport that the Dubai World Cup goes ahead as scheduled and in a regulated manner. Maybe we can make it up next year for the (25th Anniversary) celebrations. But that’s the way life goes.”

Emirati handler Mussabeh Al Mheiri also said that the DRC decision was a positive move.

“These are difficult times, but life, and sport, must go on,” he said. “Obviously we will continue to follow the guidelines laid down by the UAE government and the Dubai Racing Club and wish everybody the best of luck.”

Meanwhile, sports around the world continued to be disrupted, and even halted, by the spread of the coronavirus.

Major sports like Formula One, golf, tennis, cricket, rugby and UFC were also rescheduling or cancelling their scheduled events.

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Greece on Thursday was held without spectators.

Meydan Racecourse held its final pre-Dubai World Cup meeting on Thursday sponsored by Pillar Partner Longines where Kuwaiti trainer/owner Rashed Bouresly continued his late-season flourish by helping himself to a double courtesy of Miqyaas in the Longines La Grande Classique and Shanty Star in the Longines Conquest VHP Ladies.

The featured Longines Master Collection Handicap over 1,600m was won in imperious fashion by the Al Mheiri-trained Alkaamel, who was ridden aggressively by Antonio Fresu to finish 13-and-a-half lengths ahead of Harbour Spirit.

The Dubai World Cup meeting comprises nine Black Type races including the Dubai Kahayla Classic Sponsored by Mubadala, the Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City District One, the Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, the Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments, the UAE Derby Sponsored by Emirates NBD, the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News, the Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World, the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic and the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline.