The all-new state-of-the-art facility running under the name Meydan is set to create a benchmark in the international racing circuit from where Nad al Sheba left off.
The brainchild of Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, his passion kicks off the Dubai International Racing Carnival with an eight-race card on the all weather track at the opening meeting. This event is the first of many to be held leading up to the world’s richest meeting as well as the richest race on the racing calender — the Dubai World Cup on March 28.
And Shaikh Mohammed’s powerful racing operation — Godolphin — is set to fire from all cylinders with some of the top stable stars to make it a memorable inaugural night for the boys in blue.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor saddles the Unbridled’s colt Midshipman under Lanfranco Dettori in the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (Gr-3), the highlight of the eight-race card sponsored by Invasor Shadwell Farm.
The four-year-old ran a cracking race in the hands and heels of the American jockey G. K. Gomez to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in 2008. Later last year, he won a 1,300-metre claimer at Belmont Park before attempting to be the first horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita last November. But he just failed and finished close third to Furthest Land in the previous Breeders’ Cup dirt mile.
Formerly trained by Bob Buffert in US before shifting to Saeed bin Suroor yard, Midshipman appears to have a very high ceiling given his continued battles with greenness.
The Carnival kicks start with the traditional curtain raiser the 1,600m Purebred Arabians Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (Gr-1). Leading trainer Gillian Duffield sends the top Arabian horse No Risk Al Maury to take the risk of clashing on the All-Weather track for the first time on UAE debut.
The consistent performer won the Purebred Arabians Shadwell Dubai International Stakes Gr-1 on two occasions at Newbury before being dethroned by the Qatari mare Al Dhama last July. He was also well beaten by Turbo in his last start.
Duffield looked confident that Al Maury will live up to his name and deliver for the stables of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.
“We started to use the main track at Meydan and the horses are handling the surface well,” she said.
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