First Meydan racemeeting takes off with Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline is the generous sponsor as Meydan host their eagerly awaited first meeting of the new season on Thursday evening. The start of what promises to be the biggest and best campaign in the history of UAE racing is a six race, all Thoroughbred card with all races on the All-Weather track.

The official feature is the penultimate race appropriately called the Emirates Airline, a 2000m handicap for which 12 have been declared.

Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe who was in double form at Jebel Ali last Friday saddles three in the race, including joint top-weight Monte Alto who will be ridden by Tadhg O`Shea for his main employer, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Stable jockey Royston Ffrench takes the mount on Rochdale with the yard`s apprentice, Saeed Al Mazrooei, aboard Regal Flush.

Assistant trainer Jilani Siddiqui said: "Monte Alto has been a great servant to the yard in recent seasons and always runs a solid race. We know conditions suit him and Rochdale who goes well fresh as well. We only managed to race Regal Flush once last year and hopefully he can be competitive this year as he had some good form in Europe a few years ago."

Doug Watson also saddled a Jebel Ali double last Friday and he is doubly represented with Ted Durcan on Dr Faustus, who shares top-weight with Monte Alto, and Clasp, the mount of Wayne Smith.

Durcan`s mount is a course and distance winner, while Clasp has shown he handles conditions and Watson said: "Dr Faustus finished last season in great form and hopefully can continue this season. Clasp is nine now but has been a real solid performer and should run his normal consistent race."

Dhruba Selvaratnam`s horses ran well throughout last Friday’s Jebel Ali meeting and he relies on Mulaqat here. An eight-year-old, he won at Jebel Ali last season, having won at Abu Dhabi back in 2008 but this will only be his third Meydan start and second on the All-Weather track. He was placed on Polytrack in the UK and is another to consider in an open race.

Satish Seemar was also in the Jebel Ali winner`s enclosure but his Achill Bay prefers a longer trip and is probably best watched on this occasion.

The preceding 1200m Emirates Holidays handicap is arguably just as good a contest with the weights headed by Al Raihe`s Alazeyab who won a Jebel Ali conditions race when last seen in March. He was chased home on that occasion by the Ismail Mohammed-trained Qamar and it would be no surprise to see that pair fight out the finish again.

Selvaratnam`s Jaasoos is better over further and will surely bid for an unprecedented third consecutive win in Abu Dhabi`s National Day Cup after this.

Watson`s Classic Blade will find this trip more to his liking than the 1000m at Jebel Ali last Friday, while Mubarak bin Shafya trains Golden Shaheen who was just behind Qamar over course and distance last March and is weighted to reverse that form.