The new facility boasts a 2500m circumference track making it the largest in the UAE and is described as a mixture of sand and fibre by Al Ain racing manager, Neil Abrahams.
“It is a sand surface but with fibre in it to help retain moisture. It has been a training facility for a long time – more than ten years – but we have had to carry out a lot of work to get it to a standard where it can be raced on. We have also had to make sure the infrastructure around the course is suitable for a race meeting and have worked closely with the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) to meet the required criteria”
“Obviously it is an exciting occasion for all and the fruition of a lot of effort. We had a very successful trial last week and it is great to have our first meeting,” Abrahams continued. “We have exciting plans for the future, including utilizing our floodlights for evening meetings and the introduction of feature races.”
Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea was involved in the aforementioned trial and said: “Potentially, Al Ain is one of the best racecourses in the UAE – it is a beautiful track and we jockeys were all really impressed with the layout. It has a really long 600m straight and is a welcome addition to our fixture list. The surface is going to improve the more it is raced on and I am really looking forward to racing there.”
The racecourse committee has provided excellent prize money and was rewarded with a bumper entry on Monday, with each of the six races attracting the maximum field of 12.
The feature, a Dh120,000 1600m Conditions race, has attracted a cracking cast, including multiple Group 1 winner Fryvolous, now an eleven-year-old veteran and winless since July 2009. He is one of three in the race for Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, whose first-choice jockey, O’Shea, chooses to ride Gali Rich, with Adrie De Vries aboard stable companion, Richlore.
O’Shea explained: “These decisions are never easy and there is probably little between the three. Apprentice Daniel Muscutt has been getting on well with Fryvolous. The jockey’s 3kgs claim should give them a good chance and new surroundings may suit the old boy.
“Richlore was a bit disappointing last time so I have gone with Gali Rich, twice a winner for us already this season.
Eric Lemartinel’s Bigg N Rich looks the one to beat.”
The only Thoroughbred race on the card is a 1600m handicap in which O’Shea rides top-weight, Intimidate for Beverley Deutrom.
Silvestre De Sousa partners Colour Guard for Musabah Al Muhairi and the pair certainly have to be feared considering the trainer’s great run of form.
Paul Hanagan, retained by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, partners Watheeq for his main employer. He was a dual winner at Sharjah earlier this season for Ali Rashid Al Raihe, while the Doug Watson-trained Hacienda looks to hold serious claims after an excellent second at Jebel Ali last week.