Eight months after the curtain came down on a spectacular season at Meydan Racecourse, racing will return to the UAE’s flagship racecourse on Friday when it hosts its first meeting of the revamped 2023-2024 season.
The bumper eight-race card which is sponsored by Dubai Racing Club’s Pillar Partner, Emirates Airline, kickstarts five months of breathtaking action on the flat for both thoroughbred and Purebred horses, that will culminate in the 28th running of the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 30, 2024.
While the old charm of racing at Meydan remains the same, the season has been re-branded as the Dubai Racing Carnival to give it a new, even more attractive look.
Friday’s card will see legendary Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor make an unusually early seasonal debut when he saddles Wild Hurricane in the Emirates Sky Cargo Handicap over a mile.
Tadhg O’Shea, the record-setting champion jockey who is back to chase an 11th title, has a very promising book of rides including one aboard the beautifully named Perfect Balance, in the same race.
Formerly trained by Bin Suroor, but now racing out of former UAE champion trainer Bhupat Seemar’s pristine Zabeel Stables, the five-year-old son of Invincible Spirit will have plenty of ‘family’ support as he bids for a second win of the season.
Owned by Desert Rose Racing, a bubbly syndicate of ten families and managed by Harry Tregoning, Perfect Balance was sold for Dh 45,000 at the ERA Racing In Dubai Sale September 2021.
Representatives of the syndicate will be present at Meydan to see their pride and joy in action at Meydan, a venue where he has done most of his racing and also won his first UAE start in February last year.
O’Shea takes the reins on Perfect Balance, who was his first winner of the season when winning the thoroughbred feature at the Sharjah Racing & Equestrian Club last month.
Tregoning, who has a long history with horse racing dating back to his days in the UK, said that owning a horse like Perfect Balance made so many people happy.
““Many of those in the syndicate are enjoying their first foray into racehorse ownership,” he told Khaleej Times. “They are very grateful to have had the opportunity to buy a horse at the sales in Dubai.
“He was a horse that we were hoping to buy, as he was well bred and had won a race in the UK (Catterick), and as things panned out we got lucky at the sale.
“Perfect Balance has been absolutely brilliant for everybody. He is a very nice horse to deal with and even when the children go to visit him at Zabeel Stables it has been a wonderful experience,” added Tregoning. “All of us get to watch him gallop and talk to Bhupat, who is really fantastic with everyone.
“Tadhg also gets on very well with him and he loves to meet the kids in the syndicate. He even gave his jockey’s prize from Sharjah to my sons Charlie and Eddie.”
Tregoning said that horses like Perfect Balance, who is the only horse that Desert Rose Racing owns at this stage, encourage you to dream.
“When you buy a well-bred miler like him, you always hope that he can one day be a horse for the Godolphin Mile (G1, March 30, 2024), that’s the dream,” said Tregoning.
“It’s because he’s been extremely consistent and relatively easy to keep sound so he’s a horse that gives us a lot of hope.
“Finger’s crossed he can win on Friday and we’ll take it from there.”
The UAE 2023/24 racing campaign includes a total of 61 meetings with Meydan Racecourse hosting 15 of these.
All meetings are open to international challengers as part of the exciting new initiative launched by Dubai Racing Club earlier this year.
Friday’s card starts with a Purebred Arabian contest and will also include a twin feature – a race for milers and one for sprinters – both carrying a purse of Dh 210,00 each.
Each race features a minimum of AED165,000 in prize money and these include both the feature events; two handicaps worth AED210,000 over 1200m and 1600m respectively.