Author: Stephen Molyneux

THERE IS ALWAYS sport to fall back on. At the end of a bad day or a bad week you can go cheer on your favourite team, cheer on your favourite player or simply hang out with your mates at the racetrack. That privilege, for the time being, has been taken away from most in what is undoubtedly a situation that simply many will have never experienced before. The show has gone on until the last possible moment in many cases, and horse racing is largely carrying on regardless, almost oblivious it would seem, to what is going on around the world. Scenes from the Cheltenham Festival last week suggested it was business as usual and it is doubtful the repercussions of having 60,000 people in close proximity will ever be measured accurately when it comes to the spreading of the Coronavirus.

In about ten days’ time horses from all over the world will be assembled for the Dubai World Cup meeting with, as things standing, the meeting set to go ahead. Media from all over the world are stating on social media that they will be in attendance. Horseman, grooms, owners and presumably trainers will also make the trip. We have yet to be told any different. The show must go on but at what stage is this rather naïve saying taking things too far? The ERA and Meydan have done and are doing everything they can and reacted very early in taking race meetings behind closed doors and perhaps this ultimately will enable the Dubai World Cup to go ahead. It will be a different task in covering the meeting with access very restricted to the players involved but hopefully everyone will come together to make the best of what is undoubtedly a bad situation.

On to happier news and Richie Mullen became the third jockey to ride 500 winners in the UAE when partnering Musheer Al Wathba to victory in the UAE Derby at Al Ain last Friday. A punch of the air as he crossed the line showed what the feat meant as he joined Richard Hills and Tadhg O’Shea in the 500 club. Undoubtedly a hugely popular figure not just in the weighing room here but back home, too, Mullen has stood the test of time in the UAE and really carved a career for himself as others would take the journeyman route both at home and abroad. He rightly prides himself on his partnership with Satish Seemar lasting, as he put it, ‘longer than many marriages’! There will hopefully be many more years, too, as these could well be exciting times for Zabeel Stables with a depth of quality to go with the quantity.

A first championship for Seemar since 2006/7 now seems a formality with the jockey’s version set to go to either Tadhg O’Shea or Mullen, the pair having ridden the majority of winners for the stable this season. There will be live hope of bagging a World Cup card winner as well with the Super Saturday heroes joining the likes of Gladiator King though sadly, as reported in Al Adiyat last week, North America has been rerouted from the big race itself to the Godolphin Mile. He looked to retain all his enthusiasm when reappearing in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge though sadly it has been a challenge to get him completely right since then with his run in Saudi Arabia suggesting all wasn’t well. The gap between Saudi and the Dubai World Cup would always be too short for some and that is very much the case for North America. As Satish Seemar said, hopefully he will be back next year although a year on you would have to wonder whether his time has passed.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel

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