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Classic crop to star ‘up the hill’ at Jebel Ali


Having staged the very last meeting of 2017 in the UAE, Jebel Ali becomes the last local track to race in 2018 with a competitive looking card on Friday, highlighted by a 1000m handicap. Jebel Ali always attracts a large, enthusiastic crowd at the quaint course but this Friday it could be swelled by those in town for Meydan’s first meeting of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival the previous evening. If you are among them, and have not visited Jebel Ali, it is well worth the effort; traditionally known for its atmosphere, something of a hybrid between a picnic and tea party and always busy, the car parks are guaranteed to be filling up from 10am, never less than four hours before the first race.

Racecourse manager Shareef Al Halawani and his team continue to do an outstanding job, both in terms of raceday experience and attracting sponsors with, as always, every Jebel Ali race this season backed by one of numerous regular supporters of the course. Members of the media, both written and visual, were welcomed to a well attended press conference at the course on Tuesday lunchtime to be briefed on all relevant details of this Friday’s absorbing card, when the featured 1000m dash, a conditions race for 3yos, is generously sponsored by Shadwell Farm, the US arm of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell breeding operation.

Most unusually for a Jebel Ali feature race, neither the sponsor’s famous blue and white silks, nor racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed’s yellow and black ones will be in action, though they are elsewhere on the card. Representing Shadwell and Shadwell Farm, Mirza Al Sayegh said: “Sheikh Hamdan has long been a massive supporter of Jebel Ali Racecourse, a commitment he continually pledges to maintain and has expanded over the many seasons we have been heavily involved. “His horses continue to perform well at Jebel Ali which everyone recognises as a very fair track and one which rarely produces hard luck stories given the long, wide home straight.”

Shareef Al Halawani added: “As always, we have to thank Sheikh Hamdan and all the other sponsors for their invaluable contribution, not just today but throughout the season as a whole. “We continually strive to stage quality racing for competitive prize money which, without their backing, obviously would not be feasible.” Yasir Mabrouk, on behalf of the Emirates Racing Authority, continued: “Again it promises to be a very good afternoon at Jebel Ali and we at the ERA congratulate the racecourse management for putting on such a good card. “It is nice to see the 3yos getting a starring role in what promises to be a very informative contest under conditions they will not have encountered previously.”

Gopi Selvaratnam, who trains on the Jebel Ali track for racecourse patron, Sheikh Ahmed, has four runners on the day and said: “Call To War looks to be our best chance in the 1000m handicap after a very good run last time when he was second.” Commercial Bank of Dubai, Al Shafar Investment, ASCANA (Arabian Scandinavian Insurance Company), Al Hudaiba Contracting and Al Sahel Contracting complete the sponsorship roster on Friday’s card which offers Dh510,000, part of a seasonal amount at Jebel Ali this campaign approaching Dh7 million! As always, the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship (DIAHC) are donating Dh1,000 to the groom of the horse adjudged the ‘best turned out’ in each race.

Also available to lucky winning ticket holders are 25 cash gifts of Dh400 apiece, a total of Dh10,000 and, again, to be drawn as a free raffle. The main gates open at 10am and the first raffle draw, for 25 of the valuable prizes, will be made at 12 noon. For Dh10 you can buy the chance to win a Cherry Arrizo3 car, with the winners drawn after the final race, while the Pick Six and other selection competitions offer a combined total prize of Dh60,000. As always, the bulk of this is the Pick Six fund which is Dh40,000 this week, so picking winners can be highly beneficial for any lucky attendee who can find all six.

The traditional free buses are provided from the car parks to the main entrance and special areas are allocated for ladies and families. With a big crowd expected, it is recommended to arrive in good time and savour the atmosphere as it builds ahead of the first race.

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22 Mar 2018
Issue Number: Issue 641
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