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Hard to Understand

Whilst it is difficult to keep everyone happy or even some people happy, this year I think the racing authority is trying to think of how many ways to shoot itself in the foot. The decision to release the conditions book and announce the 50% drop in Meydan prize money just after the racing in Dubai sale did not go down well at all and many owners were quick to express their thoughts on social media.

If the announcement was made earlier, would it have made much of a difference to the sale? I don’t know. I personally held back at the sale because of the lack of conditions book; maybe a few others did too. In Europe the sales have usually held the prices from years gone by. I do appreciate that the timing was not great. It could be suggested that the conditions book was held back due to the changes.

What concerns me most is the actual conditions book. It is the worst I have seen in the eighteen years of owning horses in Dubai. The lack of thought and planning is unbelievable. In this day and age when the details of every horse in the country are held in a computer, a simple program could have been used to determine which races would be the most useful for the equine population.


For some horses there isn’t even a race option which could be remotely classed as ideal. We had no other option for our horse Grand Argentier other than Jebel Ali last week. When he was younger, he showed a clear dislike for racing up the hill. Grand Argentier won twice at Meydan last season and there isn’t a handicap pre carnival for him. As for the carnival conditions, there is only the Curlin listed handicap. I doubt that he will run within the handicap which means that it has been a waste of time keeping a 96 rated horse in Dubai.


Laieth who is rated 95 is also in the same boat. Options for him are more likely to be limited as he is more of a turf horse but again even in the carnival, he will struggle for a handicap race to suit. Is it time to move him elsewhere?


Both Grand Argentier and Laieth could find their home country changing after this season.

I could write comments about the lack of race options for all of our horses. However, I am not just arguing the case for our team. This will impact many horses in the local community. Consider Royal Sands who ran excellently on debut in the UAE for the Cool Silk partnership. Doug Watson doesn’t often run his horses back in two weeks and even less so after a break. To see Royal Sands tailing in last two weeks after debut as there were no other race options during the rest of November and December demonstrates that we are not the only owners with a lack of options.

The Jebel Ali meeting this week sums up the conditions book perfectly.

The Dubai Racing Club stables are not allowed horses rated below 55. With this in mind, trainers have rightly advised owners that we should only be looking at higher rated horses. So why are there so many races supporting horses rated below 65?

Jebel Ali 27th November

  • Two maidens

  • Two races for horses rated below 65

  • A 3-year-old conditions race (for 5f sprinters). Who in their right mind goes shopping for a 2-year-old sprinter when the target races are the Guineas and The Derby, 1600 and 1900 races?)

  • The only handicap on the card for horses rated above 65 is a 70-85 which is written for horses that haven’t won since April 2018! (How many are still rated 70-85 if they have not won for 2 years?)

Crazy!?!

The average winner of a handicap at the latest meetings at Jebel Ali and Meydan went up just over 5lbs. Therefore, I doubt many DRC stables have horses that won in the last season and are rated below 65 which means that most of the horses rated below 65 are likely maidens or horses that have not won for a few years.


It will be certainly be interesting to see how busy the next meeting at Jebel Ali is especially for the Dubai Racing Club trainers. I wouldn’t be shocked if the one thoroughbred race at Sharjah, (the 70-90 handicap) has nearly as many individual entries as the whole of the Jebel Ali card does this week.

We don’t own any horses suitable for these Jebel Ali races and we are in a similar situation with the conditions book at Meydan next week unless we want to run horses over the wrong trip. We have entered two of our team at Sharjah but I doubt that either will get into the final field. We can live in hope.

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