Ascot outing 'great': Ajtebi

The Emirati jockey may not have ridden a winner, but he was proud to have led the World team in the riders' event.

The Irish jockeys Richard Hughes, left, Seamie Heffernan, centre, and Neil Callan celebrate their team victory in the Shergar Cup riders' championship at Ascot.
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Ahmad Ajtebi may not have ridden a winner for the Rest of the World team at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot, but the Emirati was proud to have captained the international jockey team. Partnered by Japanese jockey Hiroyuki Uchida and India's Melesh Narredu, Ajtebi chalked up a second, sixth, seventh and two eighth places in the jockeys' championship competition.

"I was very happy to be captain of the Rest of the World team," said Ajtebi. "Competing next to such strong teams from England and Ireland was a great experience. I felt very proud." Ireland's team wrapped up the championship, dominating the day with four winners in six races. The Irish jockey Neil Callan, on board Aim To Prosper pipped Ajtebi to the post in the Sodexo Prestige Shegar Cup Stayers Handicap, which the Emirati jockey had led on the Mark Johnston-trained Yes Mr President until the final 100 yards.

"The result was not bad, as you do not get to choose your horse. It is the luck of the draw," said Ajtebi. "The result was the last thing on my mind really. It was the experience that was important, and representing the UAE. "It is one of the best tracks in England. Any jockey would love to ride there. I love to ride at Ascot." Jebel Ali will host the opening race of the 2009/2010 UAE horse racing season on November 6, as the Emirates Racing Authority yesterday confirmed the new Meydan racecourse will not be ready for the start of the season. The 2009/2010 fixture list was announced yesterday and schedules the new Dubai course to host its first race on January 28, two months after the start of the season.

With building still under way on the course, which will replace the Nad Al Sheba, Jebel Ali will now have the honour of staging the season opener for the first time since the 2002/2003 season. In an opening weekend triple header, racing will return to the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club on November 7, with Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club completing the line-up on Sunday November 8, in the first of their 17 scheduled fixtures.

The Meydan racecourse will have 10 fixtures, including the 15th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup on March 27.