Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The untiring efforts of the Jebel Ali Racecourse organizing committee finally paid off as the venue put concerns regarding its rain-marred surface behind it and successfully hosted the race last week.
The heavy downpour that lashed the UAE for three consecutive days left the track flooded, leaving no room for the race.
With dark clouds hovering over the eighth meeting of Jebel Ali’s season, the dynamic Mohammed Al Ahmed-led team burned the midnight oil for two straight days and got a thumbs up from the Emirates Racing Authority, stewards, trainers, jockeys, and sponsors after the seven-race card meeting held smoothly.
Chosen Mark under Antonio Fresu made a perfect start for his new owner, Ali Haddad, winning the most valuable handicap prize.
Proving his sharp acumen for racing and track, Ahmad, general manager of Jebel Ali Racecourse, sensed the gravity of the situation following the torrential rains.
Ahmed, who has extensive experience in the equestrian field and belongs to a family that has been in racing for decades, immediately consulted the higher organizing committee and Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, patron of Jebel Ali Racecourse.
He apprised them of his plans to make the race happen.
Ahmed and his team worked tirelessly for two days and waited for the green signal from the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) before the gates opened for jockeys to spur their horses.
“First, I would say that it was very difficult as it was raining heavily across the UAE, and given the sensitive nature of our track, it was near to impossible to have the race on Saturday.
“We took it up as a challenge to make this happen. Immediately, my team and I were on track to tackle the situation. We made some channels that allowed the water to pass instead of remaining on dirt,” said the Jebel Ali Racecourse general manager.
After making the track suitable for racing, the committee was waiting for confirmation from ERA. The ERA team conducted an inspection in the morning and found the track in perfect shape to host the races.
“It was a huge success for me and my team, as the safety of horses and jockeys was our top priority.
“Regarding the situation, I was apprising Sheikh Ahmed and the higher organizing committee. Sheikh Ahmed’s support gave us huge confidence and pushed us to make sure everything went off well.”
Emirate Airline sponsored the feature race of the seven-race card.
“We are also glad to have had big sponsors, including Emirates, Commercial Bank of Dubai, and others supporting us. In addition, Newbury Racecourse, UK, also sponsored one race during the eighth meeting.
“Our association with Newbury Racecourse is long, and it is part of our collaboration with them in exchanging information and experiences between the two famous racecourses. We will also sponsor one race in Newbury.
Emirates Airline has been associated with Jebel Ali for over 20 years.
“We are thankful to Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, for his unwavering support.
“The Emirates Airline support of horse racing, here in Dubai and elsewhere, is well known and has been one of the mainstays of our sports sponsorship portfolio for a long time,” he added.
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