Dubai: The wait is finally over.
Meydan, the UAE’s flagship racecourse, is to host the first race meeting for the 2020-21 season on Thursday - with Pillar Partner Emirates Airline returning to assume its traditional role as the sponsor of the whole six-race card.
This is the first of 11 racing fixtures at Racing at Meydan (RAM) which are aimed at supporting locally-trained horses and trainers outside in the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Racing will be conducted under strict UAE Government health and safety regulations thorough proper sanitisation, thermal screening of all attendees and mandatory social distancing.
These measures will be implemented and monitored by the Dubai Racing Club (DRC), under whose governance the races will be held.
The day’s highlight is a 1400m conditions race for three-year-olds which is sponsored by Emirates Airline. The contests has attracted a quality field of seven runners where Rio Angie and Lake Causeway make considerable appeal.
Horses trained by former champion trainer Doug Watson, who saddled a three-timer at Jebel Ali Racecourse last Friday, are known to excel on the Meydan dirt and Rio Angie looks a filly should run well in the hands of Watson’s stable jockey Pat Dobbs.
Lightly raced Rio Angie made a winning debut in a 1400m fillies’ maiden last November, before she finished a respectable third in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over the same course and distance. In her final start of the season, she finished fourth in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.
Looking ahead to her four-year-old campaign, Watson said: “She is in great shape at home and working very well. She had some wind surgery after her last season and that seems to have helped her.
“Obviously she is taking on the colts for the first time, but we think she will go well from a nice draw (Stall 1) in an open race.”
UAE veterean Erwan Charpy saddles Spirit Of Light, one of two maidens in the field. The mount of Fabrice Veron, the Dark Angel gelding made four visits to Meydan last season where she put in some decent efforts.
Previously raced in Britain by Charlie Appleby, Godolphin’s Spirit Of Light was fourth in the 1600 metre UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and was then fifth in both the Group UAE 2000 Guineas, also over 1600m, and Listed Al Bastakiya, over three metres extra.
Charpy, who is well regarded for his positive and patient approach to traing, said: “He ran some good races last season and we think dropping to 1400m is going to suit him, especially first time back this campaign.
“We are very happy with him in training and we will have to see how he goes in a good little race.”
Lake Causeway, also a maiden, is one of three in the race representing another UAE veteran handler, Satish Seemar. The choice of stable jockey Richard Mullen, Lake Causeway finished runner-up on his first two starts and was then a good fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas.
He would take his chances in the Saudi Derby at Riyadh in February, where he was caught out for pace and finished well behind the Japanese raider Full Flat. Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea partners stable companion Commanding, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, but who ran below expectations to finish eighth in the Classic itself.
The meeting opens with a 1900 m maiden, the Emirates Holidays, in which Emirati handler Salem bin Ghadayer saddles Zabardast for Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, with Royston Ffrench in the irons.
Bin Ghadayer appears to have his runners up to the mark - having saddled three winners at Jebel Ali treble last weekend - and it will be wise to keep an eye on Zabardast who was runner-up to American raider Fore Left in the UAE 2,000 Guineas.
Six juveniles have been declared for the second race of the season at Meydan, the Arabian Adventures with Shamran looking looking to have strong claims for Seemar - as does Rare Ninja and Zhou Storm, one of the two representing Emirati handler Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Racing fans have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Winner’s Circle Restaurant by contacting the Ticket Sales Office at +971 (4) 327 2110 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, the Dubai Racing Club have extended a warm welcome to their main sponsors: Emirates Airline, Longines, DP World, Gulf News, Emirates NBD, Azizi Developments, Al Tayer Motors, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One and Mubadala.
Race 1: 1. Zabardast; ,2. Falcon Claws
Race 2: 1. Rare Ninja; 2. Shamran
Race 3: 1. Royal Sandsl 2. Rich And Famous
Race 4: 1. Rio Angie; 2. Lake Causeway
Race 5: 1. Kinver Edge; 2. Golden Goal
Race 6: 1. Illusional ,; 2. Stricker ,
Day’s Best: Kinver Edge
Race meetings will be held at Meydan Racecourse during the 2020-2021 UAE racing season.
Racing at Meydan (RAM) domestic fixtures will take place during the season starting on Thursday, November 5.
Horses will compete across six races on Thurday, all of which are sponsored by Meydan Pillar Partner, Emirates Airline.