Meydan flag flies as Winter heats up

Racing returns to the UAE`s flagship racecourse on Thursday evening with a six race card, sponsored by Meydan.

The Meydan Racecourse and Grandstand proved a great hit worldwide when first opened to the public in January and this season is staging `domestic racing` for the first time. Tomorrow`s meeting, the second of the `Winter Meets` with an ultra competitive programme on the All-Weather surface, marks a step up in gear as the 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival gets ever closer.

The featured 1600m conditions race, The Meydan Hotel, one of five Thoroughbred contests, has attracted the maximum field of 14 with the weights headed by the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Emmrooz on whom Kieren Fallon replaces stable jockey William Buick who is in Mauritius.

Selvaratnam explained: "William is riding in a jockeys` challenge but Kieren is available and we all know what a good jockey he is. Emmrooz will come on for the run and has to give weight away but is in good form at home."

Former UAE Champion Trainer Doug Watson trains Prince Shaun who was last seen on Dubai World Cup night in the Al Quoz Sprint. He said: "That did not go to plan but he had a great season before that. He handles the surface well and has form over this far so we are hoping for a big run as he seems in good form." Prince Shaun is to be ridden by Pat Dobbs.

Aamaaq (Ali Rashid Al Raihe/Tadhg O`Shea) is a course and distance winner already this season but steps up markedly in class.

The same comment applies to stable companion Rochdale who also won at Meydan a fortnight ago. That was over 1900m but he steps up slightly to 2000m in the Meydan City Corporation, another conditions race. Dubai Twilight chased him home last time and re-opposes but Watson’s duo Quartier Latin (O`Shea) and Roman`s Run (Dobbs) look bigger dangers and the trainer said: "Both are very capable of big runs and we have to be hopeful in a competitive little race."

Roman`s Run was a 2010 Dubai International Racing Carnival winner for Watson as was Barbecue Eddie, who contests the concluding Meydan Grandstand Events,a 1200m handicap under O`Shea. The trainer said: "Conditions will suit but we could have been drawn better in a tough heat."

Dohasa, the mount of former multiple Champion Jockey Ted Durcan who makes his seasonal return, looks a big danger for trainer Ismail Mohammed but does have the worst of the draw. Al Raihe`s Green Beret made a pleasing return to action at the first Meydan meeting and is another to consider.

Similarly, Energia Central was arguably unlucky not to win that night and will be hard to beat in the 1600m Meydan IMAX.

The only Purebred Arabian race is the opener, the 1600m Meydan Godolphin Parks which has attracted a field of seven. With Quite A Show and Royal Class both very capable performers, opening night winner Af Amthaal may have to raise his game under Willie Suple for trainer Bakhit Al Ketbi. He was chased home on that occasion by Rafed who re-opposes and for whom Durcan is an eye-catching booking.