Knightsbridge are excited about the record fixture list for the 2018-19 UAE racing season that has been approved by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Emirates Racing Authority (ERA).
The season will offer an unprecedented 67 race dates, five more than 2017-18, and opens at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday, October 26, 2018. Meydan Racecourse and Abu Dhabi Racecourse will kick off their seasons the following week on Thursday, November 1, and Saturday, November 3, respectively.
Meydan’s domestic ‘Racing at Meydan’ season will have 12 meets, three more than last season, while Abu Dhabi will have 15. Sharjah Racecourse initiates its six-meet season on Saturday, November 10, while Al Ain Racecourse’s season starts on Thursday, November 15, adding two race meets in April to total 12. The aforementioned Jebel Ali will feature 11 meets on the season.
His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Emirates Racing Authority said: “We are pleased to launch the 2018-2019 race fixture which provides the trainers and horse lovers with an integrated season on the five tracks of UAE. This program includes races for both local and international horses (Arabian & Thoroughbred), We look forward to another successful racing season in the UAE on Friday 26 October 2018.”
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Horseracing began in the Emirate of Dubai in October 1981, when the dusty Camel Track hosted the first Thoroughbred racemeeting. Three races were run – a sprint, a mile and a mile and a half, organised by the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Approximately 10 years later, in early 1992 the Dubai Racing Club was established under the chairmanship of Colonel Ali Khamis Al Jafleh, a UAE Air Force commander. In March 1992 came the official opening at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, where the highlight was the appearance of some of horseracing’s biggest stars at the time – jockeys Lester Piggott and Willie Carson. A year later, in March 1993, with limitations on the free movement of horses shipping in and out of the UAE, the Dubai Racing Club selected the second best option, jockeys. On March 26 that year, Nad Al Sheba Racecourse hosted the inaugural Dubai International Jockeys’ Challenge (DIJC). Five groups of two jockeys were invited to compete, with senior riders representing the USA, Europe, Australia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
The DIJC would eventually pave the way for the creation of the Dubai World Cup. The first Dubai World Cup was held in 1996 and thrust both Nad Al Sheba Racecourse and the UAE onto the global stage as American wonder horse Cigar, claimed the inaugural running. It was at the event’s 14th running in 2009 that another American brilliantly bookmarked the Dubai World Cup and brought to an end the chapter at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse. Well Armed romped to a 14-length success, a record-winning distance to herald the end of the Nad Al Sheba era. The next Dubai World Cup in 2010 helped introduce the iconic Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse to the world. The architectural masterpiece is the new home for the Dubai World Cup and is the world’s largest integrated racing facility, with a Grandstand seating capacity for more than 60,000 nestling alongside The Meydan Hotel which boasts 285 elegantly appointed rooms and suites. The excitement of the first Dubai World Cup hosted at Meydan was equaled on the track that year as Gloria de Campeão emerged the winner in an exciting three-horse finish to become the event’s first Brazilian champion. In 2011 Victoire Pisa and Transcend gave Japan a first win and a 1 – 2 finish in the coveted race and in 2012 Godolphin repeated the feat with Monterosso in first and Capponi in second. Fast forward to the present day and the USA was once again successful when world champion Arrogate wowed the world with an impossible last-to-first victory.