Meydan Racecourse ushers in a new era on Thursday with the opening of its newly-installed dirt track for the first meeting of its 2014/15 season.
A racecourse trial was held at the new track on Tuesday, with horses galloping over 1,400m and 1,600m under race conditions.
The dirt replaces the Tapeta which was laid down in January 2010 but has been replaced as the synthetic surface was deemed too temperamental in hot weather.
Dubai Racing Club executive director for racing Frank Gabriel said: “We were very pleased with the trials. The feedback from trainers and jockeys has been positive and we are excited about the new season.
— Dubai Racing Club (@DRC_Meydan) November 6, 2014
“This is an important season for us as we will stage the 20th running of the Dubai World Cup and we look forward to welcoming top international horses to compete on the surface during the World Cup Carnival and on World Cup day.”
There are 19 racedays before the season-ending World Cup day with the first today. The highlight of the six-race card is the Dh125,000 1900m Emirates Airline Handicap, for which eight have been declared, including the Doug Watson duo of Storm Belt and Henry Clay.
The action then moves on to Al Ain on Friday and they too are racing on a new dirt surface for the first time.
The highlight of their six-race card is a 1,400m Purebred Arabian conditions event which has attracted a select field of six.
The weights are headed by RB Smokin Rich, representing the combination of Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel and Champion Jockey Tadhg O’ Shea.
The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Zaffaan receives weight from his five rivals but did win on dirt at Sharjah last year and could be the main danger to RB Smokin Rich.