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The calm before the storm prevails at Meydan

Dubai braces for arrival of world’s most valuable and talented race horses

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archive
French horses during the morning track work at Meydan.
Gulf News

Dubai: While we bask in the beautiful early morning Dubai sunshine spare a thought for the European horses and their lads and lasses, who with the culmination of the Carnival have now returned home to vastly different weather conditions than they were relishing in Dubai, with the majority of Europe suffering Siberian style temperatures and snow and ice.

Global warming gone haywire.

The racetrack has been a quiet spot for a few days in the absence of those who make Meydan their winter quarters each year but not for long as the steady drone of planes laden with some of the world’s most valuable and talented race horses make their way to these shores.

Both the West and East coasts will be represented with flights from California and Florida. Such is the nature of the International racing scene that it is now normal practice to fly the equine athletes thousands of miles around the world in search of fame and glory.

We are anticipating arrivals from Japan and Australia as well as the UK and in a class all of their own are the Aidan O’Brien trained runners, who will probably be the last to land in Dubai, having finished all their preparatory work on home ground. They will board their very own plane as they do all year round, whether to run in England, France or further afield.

Mornings at Meydan will be quiet no more, the viewing areas filled with trainers, owners, photographers and journalists from every corner of the globe. TV crews will jostle for precious space and Japanese runners will ensure a minor stampede as each new horse appears on track. The awesome beauty and power of Godolphin’s stunning looking Talismanic will compete for attention with the attractive grey X Y Jet and the dominant, imposing form of Forever Unbridled.

This is a hugely exciting time to be involved in horse racing in Dubai. Each day the tension and sense of drama will build, everyone craning necks and straining eyes to be the first to spot the stars approaching, cameras and microphones primed and ready to whirr into action.

I also love this time for its opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones and hear so many different views on the up coming races.

Hopefully the white haired American Bob Baffert will be present and holding court to a sea of journalists with his special brand of charisma and the ability to talk at length to so many, with out repeating himself once.

He doesn’t have Arrogate this time but West Coast may prove his judgement correct if he can get by Talismanic and Forever Unbridled. A huge night is in store following these glorious few days ahead of us. How fortunate we are to be here and witness it all.

— Jacquie Doyle is a former racehorse trainer and the mother of leading jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle.