Jebel Ali ready to kick off UAE’s exciting new horseracing season - GulfToday

Jebel Ali ready to kick off UAE’s exciting new horseracing season

Horse Racing

Adel Al Ghaith, Shareef Al Halawani, Yasser Mabrouk, Nicholas Bachalard and Richard Mullen and other dignitaries during the press conference at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Tuesday. Al Khaleej

Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor

The iconic horse shoe-shaped Jebel Ali racecourse is all set to host the curtain-raiser meeting for the 2021/ 2022 UAE racing season on Friday, the first of the 11 scheduled at the venue.

The seven-race card opener will play out in front of empty stands for the first and last time this season after the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) approved the return of spectators to racecourses ahead of the new season.

Sheikh Rashid Bin Dalmouk Bin Juma Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the ERA, announced the re-opening of gates for racing fans and welcomed the decision to fully resume normal activity at all the five UAE racecourses, following the country’s success in overcoming the pandemic.

The full card is sponsored by Emirates which offers a total prize purse of Dh496,000.

The action will get under way at 1:45pm while the 1200m-feature race is the highlight of the card, which has attracted a strong field of 12.  

The feature event of the afternoon carries a prize purse of Dh96,000 and is a handicap open to 3yos and above rated 80 to 109.

The race features the Salem Bin Ghadayer conditioned High On Life as the top weight at 98, with Doug Watson’s Shadwell owned Fanaar one below at 97 with Ahmad Bin Harmash’s Story Of Light also in the fray carrying a rating of 95.

Ghadayer is saddling a total of three, including Cocobai and Cardsharp, who will also carry the colours of the Dubai Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Watson is also represented by Ababil, while Satish Seemar is represented by a pair, including Expressionist.

Jebel Ali Racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is represented by Sharamm.

Richard Mullen, newly appointed retained rider for Sheikh Ahmed, is looking forward to make a winning start in his new role with the Jebel Ali based team.

Mullen, who has five rides in famous black and yellow silks on the Friday’s card, starts the new journey with Waathig, who will attempt to pick his first career success in the in the opening race of the card — 1400m maiden.

Waathig is trained by Nicholas Bachalard, who saddles three others all obviously ridden by Mullen. For the pair, Moolhim runs in the 1400m handicap half an hour later and thereafter Tahdeed takes on five others in the 1200m maiden.

Mullen can’t wait for racing to get under way. The former UAE Champion Jockey said: “I want to say a huge thank you to Sheikh Ahmed and Nicholas (Bachalard) and Mohammed Al Shehhi, recently appointed General Manager of the ERA, for giving me this opportunity which came out of the blue after I left Zabeel after 16 long years in March.

“I was approached six weeks ago and I immediately grabbed the opportunity. I had my first ever ride for the stables back in 1998 and it feels like I have come full circle and this is a big honour and privilege and I look forward to doing my best for Sheikh Ahmed.”

Bachalard enjoyed eight wins with 52 dispatches last term and is eyeing another fruitful season starting with a big afternoon in his backyard as he starts his partnership with Mullen.

Shareef Al Halawani, Jebel Ali Racecourse Manager said: “We are coordinating with the ERA on all matters to ensure everything falls in line.

“We thank Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and Emirates for their generous sponsorship of this opening card at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

“We hope fans will make the time to follow all of the racing online. We are doing our best to make sure fans return to Jebel Ali Racecourse by the second meeting of our season.

“We have some good handicap racing on the opening day of the season and it looks like it’s going to be very competitive with the kind of horses that have been declared so all in all it’s going to be a very interesting day of racing and we urge racing fans to continue to support the sport through online channels.”

Representing the Emirates Racing Authority was Yasser Mabrouk, who said: “There are many more exciting changes and the club are keen to make these for the safety of horses and riders.

“Jebel Ali has always been the most crowd friendly racetrack we have and we missed having the crowds here last year and this season we can have the crowds back to watch racing.

“We are looking forward to having the stands full of course only after making sure all of the prescribed health and safety protocols are met.”

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