Meydan Race Course

Meydan Race Course

Dave Harmon

Meydan Masters Gets Dubai Carnival Started

The 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival kicks off with the Meydan Masters Jockey Challenge.

Many of the best Thoroughbreds in the world will converge upon Meydan Racecourse when the Dubai World Cup Carnival begins on Jan. 5.

The Carnival, which was formerly run as the Dubai International Racing Carnival, will open its 16-day race meeting with two consecutive racing days on Jan. 5-6. The program will culminate with the prestigious Dubai World Cup day program on March 31, which is highlighted by the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).

Kentucky-based AmWest Entertainment will partner with the Dubai Racing Club for the third consecutive year to distribute the Dubai simulcast signal for wagering around North and South America and the Caribbean region.

The third annual Meydan Masters International Jockeys Challenge-Sponsored by Longines gets the Carnival started with a two-day competition that will showcase 12 outstanding jockeys from around the world. The competition is comprised of four races spread out over the two days of racing, with points being accumulated based on the riders’ finishes in each of the designated races.

Richard Hills of Great Britain won the inaugural event in 2010, with Calvin Borel of the United States winning the title last year. Riders participating in the challenge this year are Frankie Dettori, Tom Queally, Ryan Moore, William Buick, Colm O’Donoghue, Christophe Lemaire, Mickael Barzalona, Maxime Guyon, Mirco Demuro, Andrasch Starke, Craig Williams, and Kenichi Ikezoe.

Both Borel and John Velazquez were invited to represent the United States, but neither could make the trip due to scheduling conflicts.

The competition gets underway in the third race on the Jan. 5 card, which is an eight-furlong handicap run over the all-weather Tapeta main track. The bulk of the competition will take place on Jan. 6, when the remaining three races will be contested.

The feature race on the opening day card is the Al Rashidiya Trial Presented by Longines. The nine-furlong turf contest drew a quality field of 10 runners, led by 2011 Dubai Carnival winners Derbaas and Mahbooba.

Derbaas, a 6-year-old horse trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, won the Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-IIT) for his connections last season, while South African champion Mahbooba won the listed UAE 1000 Guineas before finishing third in the UAE Derby (UAE-II).

One of the highlights of the Jan. 6 race card is the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial Presented by Longines. A field of six sophomore fillies will line up, led by Cherry Hinton Stakes (Eng-II) winner Gamilati. The daughter of Bernardini  is owned by Godolphin and will be ridden by Dettori.