Meydan`s first Spring Meet kicks off on Thursday

This Thursday Meydan will host the first of their Spring Meets and final fixture before the start of the 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival next week at Dubai’s flagship racecourse.

The official feature is the 1600m Meydan “Prime” and the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Playfellow should run a big race after a very pleasing return to action on his UAE bow four weeks ago over 1400m. A useful performer in the UK for Michael Jarvis, he missed over two years but Selvaratnam appears to have him fit and well and was pleased with his comeback.

He said: "He had been off a long time but ran well for a long way last time before getting a bit tired. The 1600m should suit him and we are hopeful." Kieren Fallon takes the ride with retained jockey William Buick on the sidelines.

Erwan Charpy`s Commander Cave was in front of him a month ago and is another who will appreciate the extra 200m on this occasion. He will be ridden by Willie Supple and Charpy said: "That was a good run last time and this trip should really suit him. It is a competitive little race but we hope for a good run."

Richard Hills rides Quartier Latin whose trainer Doug Watson said: "We had been a bit disappointed with him but he pleased us last time when ridden on the speed and hopefully he can go well again. He is Carnival-rated and we always have the Turf option if we need it but he is certainly worth another try on the All-Weather."

Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe is triple-handed with stable jockey Royston Ffrench choosing With Interest and Daragh O`Donohoe on hat-trick seeker Palm Court. The frustrating Stubbs Art under Antioco Murgia completes the trio and assistant trainer Jilani Sidiqqi said: "Hopefully for him Royston has picked the right one but all three have a good chance. Palm Court may need a bit further, while Stubbs Art works very well but is hard to predict. With Interest is in good form and we are very hopeful."

Rochefort looks best of the Satish Seemar trio under Richard Mullen who said: "It will be his first run at Meydan but he has worked well on it. Hopefully he could be a Carnival horse."

The 2800m Meydan “Farriers” promises to be a real test of stamina with Seemar`s Sunday Symphony the only runner to have won over the trip previously. However, Mullen has chosen to ride Book of Music, which looks a significant pointer whilst stable companion Achill Bay (Harry Bentley) certainly cannot be discounted.

Doug Watson saddles three live hopes in Arqaam (Richard Hills), Dynamic Saint (Pat Dobbs) and Royal Prince (Tadhg O`Shea), while Musabah Al Muhairi is another with a strong hand, saddling two likely types. Stable jockey Wayne Smith partners Leitmotiv, whilst brother David is on Pearly King, on whom he won over 2200m last time.

Ffrench elects to ride Al Raihe`s Habalwatan over Kerashan (Antioco Murgia), with Willie Supple partnering Captain Webb, suggesting he is Charpy`s first string over New Guinea (Ted Durcan).

Both of these races should offer Dubai International Racing Carnival pointers.

The first two races of the evening are both over 1200m, the Meydan Turf Lounge and the Meydan Tiered Restaurant. The former’s line-up is relatively even. The latter sees Al Raihe and Seemar both double-handed, and Doug Watson triple-handed. However, Musabah Al Muhairi’s Africanus and Mubarak bin Shafya’s Marine Spirit could be the main contenders having both won on their last efforts.

All in all, Thursday night’s racecard looks ultra-competitive.