Emirates Racing Authority announces 62 meetings on next year’s UAE horse racing slate

The Dubai World Cup Carnival will start on January 5 and will culminate with World Cup night itself on March 25 after fixtures for the UAE season were approved by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Geoffrey Riddle reports.

Dubai World Cup 2016 winner California Chrome has reportedly signed up for next year’s Pegasus World Cup. Andrew Watkins Photography
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The Dubai World Cup Carnival will start on January 5 and will culminate with World Cup night itself on March 25 after fixtures for the UAE season were approved by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minster of the UAE and Chairman of the Emirates Racing Authority.

There will be 11 World Cup fixtures in all, and the headache of the Carnival double-header taking in Super Saturday has been lifted with the Emirates Racing Authority moving it to Thursday, February 9 and 11th. Super Saturday will remain at the first weekend of March.

Jebel Ali will host the opening fixture of the UAE season on Friday, October 28, while Abu Dhabi will host its first meeting on Sunday, November 6.

In total, there will be 62 race meetings across the five racecourses in the UAE with Meydan set for 20 race meetings, Abu Dhabi 15, Jebel Ali 11, Al Ain 10 and Sharjah six. This is the same as last season.

Related: Dubai World Cup winners 2016 – Race-by-race results and analysis

Watch: Full video of California Chrome winning 2016 Dubai World Cup

Read also: After the world came together for 2016 Dubai World Cup, what is next for the winners?

“We offer racing for domestic and international horses in both the thoroughbred and Purebred Arabian ranks, and look forward to the start of the another successful season of racing in the UAE,” Sheikh Mansour said in a statement.

“Spectators and racing aficionados will be treated to yet another renewal of a top quality flat racing season where the best horses, jockeys, owners and trainers will be contesting for success in the meetings held at the country’s best racecourses.”

With Sheikh Mansour as chairman of the Emirates Racing Authority, the 2016/17 season could well be the last in this format. At the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in Rome at the weekend, Lara Sawaya, the executive director of the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Racing Festival, reportedly suggested that she will request a meeting with the ERA to extend the UAE racing season beyond the World Cup.

The suggestion would be to have races at night to allow for the heat, but, in a discussion on the future of Arabian racing, Pat Buckley, the racing director at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, believed it would be better to have more races at staged individual fixtures during the current season.

It remains unclear whether the US$10million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup will still be the world’s most valuable race in March. The Pegasus World Cup has been mooted by the Stronach Group, which owns the Maryland Jockey Club tracks in America, and has been pencilled in for January. The concept is that connections of each of the 12 runners puts up US$1million to enter, and owners will share equally 100% of the net income from the event. The purse is set at $US12million, with US$7million going to the winner.

Connections of California Chrome, the Dubai World Cup winner, have already signed up and when the announcement was made earlier this month there were no owners based in the UAE who had purchased a starting berth.

When The National contacted the Emirates Racing Authority for comment on whether they were looking at increasing the size of the World Cup purse, they declined to comment.

Britain is set to run its most valuable flat race on Saturday after Godolphin’s Cloth Of Stars was one of four horses supplemented yesterday in to the Derby.

The Godolphin colt, trained in France by Andre Fabre, was joined by favourite Wings Of Desire, Red Verdon and Humphrey Bogart. With connections of each horse required to pay £75,000 the prize fund now stands at £1,545,000.

With 18 runners engaged it could be the biggest field for a decade, and Cloth Of Stars will run alongside fellow Godolphin contender Moonlight Magic.

Other horses running for Dubai-based connections include Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Massaat, the English 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Across The Stars, who bids to hand owner Saeed Suhail a second Derby success after Kris Kin in 2003. Deauville, owned by Fitri Hay, is one of seven horses still entered by trainer Aidan O’Brien, whose team is headed by Chester winner US Army Ranger.

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