Mirza Al Sayegh, Shareef Al Halawani and Yasser Mabrouk during the press conference at the Jebel Ali Racecourse on Tuesday.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
The Dubai World Cup Carnival gets under way on mesmerising Meydan Racecourse on Thursday and the iconic Jebel Ali Racecourse will host the track’s biggest race of the season, the 1600m Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile on Friday, as the quality rises dramatically in the Emirate.
Generously sponsored by Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE’s Minister of Finance Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s breeding empire, the Dhs575,000 worth race has attracted a strong field of 12.
Besides the feature race, Sheikh Hamdan’s global racing and breeding operation through its subsidiaries sponsors the entire seven-race card which carries a total prize purse of Dhs1,075,000; Dhs100,000 each forming the purse of the two conditions races over 1400m and 1200m.
Above Normal, Ode to Autumn and Secret Ambition, who won the race in 2019, are among the favourites. Satish Seemar saddles all three. Last meeting’s most successful trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer saddles the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum owned pair of Hypothetical, the ride of Royston Ffrench, who rode two winners during the last meeting at the racecourse, and Blown By Wind, the ride of Xavier Ziani.
The famous blue and white silks of Sheikh Hamdan will be represented by Alkaamel and Gabr in the Jebel Ali Mile.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Mirza Al Sayegh, the Director of the Office of Sheikh Hamdan, reiterated the support of Sheikh Hamdan to the Jebel Ali Racecourse.
“I met with His Highness Sheikh Hamdan before coming to the press conference and he asked me to convey his wishes and inform all that he is recovering from the illness.
“He further asked me to convey the commitment of Shadwell and Derrinstown to racing at Jebel Ali Racecourse. Sheikh Hamdan has been an ardent supporter of racing at Jebel Ali and it is a venue that is close to him. He has had a lot of success here in the past and we can only hope that he will have more success this Friday on what is a very special day of racing,” he added.
Mirza also condoled the death of Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.
Prince Khalid Abdullah, one of flat racing’s most successful owners and breeders, whose horses included Frankel and Enable, died aged 83 last week.
A passionate supporter of horse racing as a young man, Prince Khalid founded Juddmonte in 1980 and oversaw the breeding of more than 440 winners.
The Saudi royal’s distinctive green, pink and white colours were carried to victory in 118 Group or Grade One races.
Many of those winners came from his successful Juddmonte breeding operation, with bases near the heartlands of English and American racing in Newmarket and Kentucky respectively.
Enable, twice the winner of France’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the pinnacle of European flat racing, was the latest in a long line of leading horses owned by Prince Khalid.
“He leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time. His contribution to the development of the thoroughbred will have long-lasting effects,” said Mirza.
Shareef Al Halawani, manager of Jebel Ali Racecourse, said: “It’s going to be a great day of racing at Jebel Ali this Friday with a card that promises top quality action as always.
“We have two top races on the card including the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile which features a top field. Some of the best horses in the division are part of the field and we are really looking forward to this renewal of the race,” he added.
The races will be held behind closed doors. Halawani said: “We hope fans will make time to follow all of the racing online. We are doing our best to make sure we make the most of the situation and the online Pick Six competition is a good way for fans to stay involved in racing.”
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