Author: Stephen Molyneux

ONE THING, amongst many, that the UAE does very well is attracting a decent crowd on a regular basis to its race meetings, but it would appear, to the naked eye at least, that the start of the 2019/20 season is proving as popular, if not more so, than ever. Such things are difficult to quantify, often based on the number of Pick 6 (7) entries, but visually at least race meetings have appeared a lot busier. That was definitely the case at Abu Dhabi on Sunday for their Jewel Crown meeting, numbers obviously swollen with overseas guests, but the capitals racetrack has raised its game with incentives for racegoers. The opportunity to win money and cars, and be in no doubt such prizes can be lifechanging to some, will naturally be one of the biggest draws and there is no hiding behind this, but it isn’t a bad thing is it?

And besides, walking through the crowd at Al Ain last week there was certainly a social feel to the occasion as well, families enjoying themselves without necessarily pinning their hopes on landing the jackpot. All this then begs the question why, when the UAE is about to enjoy a five day weekend, do we have just the one meeting this week? Because it twas ever thus? I can wholly understand why Abu Dhabi wouldn’t race with it being their weekend of fast cars going round and round in circles for a couple of hours, and maybe Meydan would be reluctant to race twice in two weeks and alongside a Jebel Ali card that could dilute the numbers, but as we continue to see, there is rarely a problem when it comes to the Purebred Arabians filling a card.

Perhaps Al Ain or Sharjah could have put their hand up and ensure the UAE maximises what appears to be an ever growing sport in terms of popularity. Possibly the least surprising breaking news story this week was that of the retirement of Donnacha O’Brien, height and weight finally getting the better of his battle with the scales. It has felt for a while as though Donnacha was intent on ticking a couple of things off his list of things to do before he did hang up his saddle, and with another championship under his belt, plus the odd Classic or two, the time is now. I would imagine there was a collective groan amongst trainers in Ireland with another O’Brien joining the ranks, and if the success of Joseph is anywhere near replicated by Donnacha, then the rest rightly do have something to worry about. The question now is does Aidan move to replace Donnacha? I suspect not.

Ryan Moore is an increasing presence as it is on the more mundane of Irish meetings, plus Ballydoyle have a core of jockeys that they have long since relied upon even on the biggest of days. Perhaps Joseph is the one who will be on the lookout for someone on a more permanent basis, Wayne Lordan well placed to take up the role thanks to his exploits aboard Iridessa. The riding performance of the week certainly goes to Oisin Murphy, once more demonstrating his considerable talent on the international scene in landing the Japan Cup, and also highlighting why European jockeys have been so in demand in recent weeks over in Japan. The likes of Christophe Soumillon, William Buick, Frankie Dettori and Murphy have all been in big race action of late, joining the more permanent Christophe Lemaire in being the ‘go to’ jockeys for high profile Japanese owners. The talent pool has never been higher in Europe and we look forward to welcoming many of the above to the Dubai World Cup Carnival in a month or so.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel

Crowds On The Rise