Backed by an ambitious programme of structural reform and an enhanced racing calendar, the Dubai Racing Club is set to launch its 2022-2023 season at Meydan Racecourse on Friday with an attractive seven-race card sponsored by Pillar Partner, Emirates Airline.
The first of 21 race days that will be held at the UAE’s flagship racecourse this season has attracted a strong entry from horse connections and features some of the best jockeys in the world, led by 10-time UAE Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
The card is highlighted by a pair of competitive handicaps over a mile and 1,900 metres that carry the name of Emirates.
Racing opens with an interesting sprint for maidens which will see a field of 12 well-bred two-year-old colts making their career debuts.
Here we look at five horses that could light up the opening day’s action and set the tone for the rest of what promises to be another exhilarating season that will culminate in the $30.5 million Dubai World Cup meeting on March 25, 2023.
Arabian Adventures Maiden Stakes – Dirt 6f
Nine months after he made history when saddling Azure Coast to become the first Russian-trained winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) handler Pavel Vashchenko makes an early return to Dubai with the hope of building on that success.
Referred to as the Russian Rocket and fictional character Ivan Drago for the ease with which he won his races, Azure Coast appears to have opened the door for more horses from the world’s largest country to travel to Dubai in search of victory.
Like Azure, Russian Standard is owned by Vladimir Kazakov, but on this occasion, there is an intriguing twist to the story as the unraced two-year-old colt is bred in America by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
He will be ridden by Russian jockey Myrzabek Kappushev as he takes on several runners who are said to have been training well, including champion trainer Bhupat Seemar’s Morning and the Doug Watson-trained Nyaar.
Emirates Sky Cargo Handicap – Dirt 10f
The five-year-old son of Munnings may have just the one win under his belt but he is a horse that is well-liked by the Zabeel Stables crew.
The win came in a maiden at Meydan in 2020 and after some misses at Jebel Ali, he returns to the scene of his sole victory hoping to prove that he has trained on over the winter.
He is the choice of ten-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea who will, needless to say, positively ride him to give him every chance of early success.
Miller’s House ran a couple of good races early last season and appears to be a horse that produces his best efforts when fresh.
This is a tricky handicap, with several interesting types, but if he turns up with his A game, should run well.
Emirates Skywards Handicap – Dirt 7f
Bred in Ireland, Quiet Endeavour caught the eye when stringing together four wins on the trot during his promising juvenile career, all the wins coming on an all-weather track back in the UK and when in the care of trainer Archie Watson.
After an unsuccessful stint with George Baker, he was sent to Doug Watson’s multiple championship-winning yard in the Metropolitan area for the 2020-2021 season.
Here, he produced several good efforts but none good enough to land the spoils. Watson is known to keep the faith in his wards and has produced him early in the season intending to discover how much he may have improved over the summer.
The choice of stable jockey Pat Dobbs, Quiet Endeavour could live up to his name and get the monkey off his back in this contest.
Emirates Airline Handicap – Dirt 1m
Doug Watson is set to saddle three in the race but with stable jockey Pat Dobbs opting to be aboard Faithful Soldier, winner of half his four career starts to date, he looks to have the best chance among the Red Stables quartet.
Assessing his team’s chances Watson said: “They are all in good form whereas Faithful Soldier has shown lots of potential in just four starts. Hopefully, they can all run well in a competitive-looking field.”
Now a four-year-old the son of Not This Time will hope to maintain his winning form from last season where he won his last start rather comfortably last November.
Out of action for close to a year, he reappears with reports that he is fit and ready to go.
Emirates Airline Handicap – Dirt 1m 1f
Formerly trained by John and Thady Gosden in the UK, the son of Golden Horn makes his first start for talented Emirati handler Salem bin Ghadayer
He visited the winner’s enclosure during that period with his last winning coming in handicap company at Newmarket in September 2020. On his last UK start he finished a short head second at Ascot when ridden by big-race jockey Frankie Dettori.
He is reportedly training well at Bin Ghadayer’s Fazza Stables yard and the trainer is upbeat about bringing him out early in the season to test him against some seasoned campaigners.