Horses set off on a race at Nad Al Sheba last year; the new season gets underway at this track tomorrow.
Horses set off on a race at Nad Al Sheba last year; the new season gets underway at this track tomorrow.

Under early starters' orders

The new season roars into life at Nad Al Sheba tomorrow when the first of 46 meetings at the three courses in the country takes place. The Dubai track, beginning its last campaign before giving way to the adjacent Dh 4.6billion Meyden complex, will also stage the finale of the season - the showpiece Dubai World Cup on March 28.

In between there will be 10 Friday meetings at Jebel Ali and 15 Sunday programmes at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, overseen by the secretary and clerk of the course Pat Buckley. The affable Irishman has bloodstock running through his veins, the former jump jockey having won the Grand National at Aintree way back in 1963 on an unfancied horse called Ayala. He cringes when told that the biggest day of his career was over 45 years ago and points out that he would shortly qualify for an old age pensioner's bus pass if he chose to abandon his adopted Emirati home and return to his roots.

Not that he is planning such drastic action. The traditional pipe and slippers in front of a glowing fire can wait for a while as Buckley works feverishly to ensure that another big opening night in Abu Dhabi on Sunday runs smoothly. To say that Buckley has been single-handedly responsible for the emergence of Abu Dhabi as a stronghold for Arabian purebred racing may be stretching a point, but it is fair to say that, by a distance in racing parlance, he has done more than anybody to put the capital on the racing map in the region if not the world.

A "Jack of all trades" when he arrived, he has wound down some of his duties as the years have passed by. But he will still be the focal figure when the first batch of horses go down to the starting gate for what will be an earlier-than-usual opening race at 5pm on Sunday. "I think that is a bit early for the race-going public," said Buckley, who resisted the change of starting time but eventually accepted it as a fait accompli.

"It is fine for the professionals in the sport but it is not a great idea for attracting crowds." That comment emphasises Buckley's priorities. His main objectives are to serve those who share his affection for the sport - spectators and then the owners and trainers. Without crowds there is no spectacle - that is his motto - but he balances that with the view that he must provide a competitive standard of racing to ensure that the fans keep attending. That is often his biggest nightmare.

"The difficulty is catering for the demands of all the Arab horses," he explained. "We simply have to give them a chance to run and that is often easier said than done. We have a safety limit here of 16 runners but it is not unusual to have 30 or more acceptors for the races. "If a horse misses his chance, it can be more than a month before he gets another opportunity to run and that is not acceptable to some of the owners and trainers.

"So on occasions, I have to try to anticipate their requirements and come up with a programme that will suit them. You know you can't please everybody all of the time, but you have to try. "We had 1300 runners in 96 races last year so the average is pretty good. We are not helped by some owners entering horses and then not running them. "That makes me wonder why I bother but it is my passion." The need to provide a glimpse of thoroughbred racing to Abu Dhabi patrons is also uppermost in Buckley's mind. There were only nine thoroughbred races in the 15 meetings last season and that figure is going to be the same over the winter months.

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre V8

Power: 503hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 685Nm at 2,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Price: from Dh850,000

On sale: now


Produced: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Anushka Sharma, Manish’s Koirala, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Boman Irani

Rating: 3.5 stars

Company profile

Date started: May 2022
Founder: Husam Aboul Hosn
Based: DIFC
Sector: FinTech — Innovation Hub
Employees: eight
Stage: pre-seed
Investors: pre-seed funding raised from family and friends earlier this year

'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'

Rating: 3/5

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Mads Mikkelson, Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Jude Law

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

The years Ramadan fell in May





How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 240hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 390Nm at 3,000rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh122,745

On sale: now


Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche, Elpidia Carrillo
Rating: 4/5


Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Ashutosh Rana, Vaani Kapoor

Rating: Two out of five stars 

Why it pays to compare

A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates


Anthony Joshua v Otto Wallin, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Deontay Wilder v Joseph Parker, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Dmitry Bivol v Lyndon Arthur, 12 rounds, light heavyweight

Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Filip Hrgovic v Mark de Mori, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Arslanbek Makhmudov v Agit Kabayel, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Frank Sanchez v Junior Fa, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Jai Opetaia v Ellis Zorro, 12 rounds, cruiserweight


Goalkeepers Henderson, Johnstone, Pickford, Ramsdale

Defenders Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell, Coady, Godfrey, James, Maguire, Mings, Shaw, Stones, Trippier, Walker, White

Midfielders Bellingham, Henderson, Lingard, Mount, Phillips, Rice, Ward-Prowse

Forwards Calvert-Lewin, Foden, Grealish, Greenwood, Kane, Rashford, Saka, Sancho, Sterling, Watkins 

Avatar (2009)

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Rating: 3/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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