Racing at Jebel Ali to return soon as track makeover in full swing - GulfToday

Racing at Jebel Ali to return soon as track makeover in full swing

Amir Naqvi

A seasoned journalist covering major sports events around the world. Amir is Sports Editor with Gulf Today.

Racing at Jebel Ali to return soon as track makeover in full swing

There are seven race meetings still scheduled to be run at the Jebel Ali Racecourse during the 2019-2020 UAE racing season.

Following temporary suspension of races at the iconic Jebel Ali Racecourse over the ‘kickback issue’, the management is doing what it takes to restore the racecourse’s three-decades-old racetrack and ensure racing returns as soon as possible.

Racing has been temporarily abandoned since early week of December after an inspection by a team comprising officials from the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA), Jebel Ali Racecourse and jockeys.

The inspection followed a complaint by a group of jockeys, who approached Emirates Racing Authority stewards on a matter concerning track safety. The riders found the track unsafe due to the kickback throughout the entire surface of the track.

The jockeys reported that the kickback was hard, causing injury to themselves, potential injury to horses and resulting in riders riding their mounts in a manner they felt was detrimental to their chances of finishing in the best possible position.

The ERA advised Jebel Ali Racecourse officials to improve the safety of the track before it was cleared for racing again.

The Jebel Ali Racecourse management said that they were working round the clock to ensure that racing resumed at the earliest possible date.

The racecourse management said in an official press release that they were proud of the relationship shared with the ERA and ‘fully respect’ any recommendations to upgrade the standing of horseracing at the popular racecourse.

“After we recently received the recommendations from the Emirates Racing Authority regarding the safety of the track’s ground, we have been studying these recommendations with local and international experts to apply the best scientific methods to restore the track to its previous condition,” Engineer Shareef Al Halawani, the racecourse manager, said.

“As far as we know, there has not been any horse or jockey related accidents since the opening of the racecourse.

“We have started implementing practical steps to ensure the fulfilment of the authorities’ (ERA) recommendations. As we have in the past, Jebel Ali Racecourse declares its continuous commitment and co-operation with the ERA in the present and in the future to preserve the safety of our jockeys and horses,” he added.

On Dec.13 the race meeting was cancelled in light of the feedback from several jockeys related to the unusual kickback that they had encountered at the previous race meeting on Nov.29.

“A working plan has been put in place and we are trying to finish the work as quickly as possible to restore life back to the racecourse, which is very dear to its fans who are eager to once again enjoy the thrilling races that characterise the Family Racecourse.”

There are seven race meetings still scheduled to be run at the Jebel Ali Racecourse during the 2019-2020 UAE racing season.

The ERA have advised Jebel Ali Racecourse that prior to racing recommencing at the venue, the surface will have to pass an official inspection, at which time a gallop will be conducted to assess the safety of the track regarding the kickback. The ERA maintains a guiding, collective principle that the safety and welfare of jockey and horse are absolutely paramount.

Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, director of the office of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security and owner of Jebel Ali Racecourse, said the issue was being treated as top priority and specialist teams were attending to the matter.

Shehhi also disclosed that Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the main patron of the Jebel Ali Racecourse, respects the ERA decision and that track safety is of paramount importance to all concerned.

Shehhi stressed that a team of global racing experts were on the job to develop sustainable and long-term solutions for the historic racetrack.

“We have been brought in specialists and experts to find long-term sustainable solutions while factoring in the climatic conditions and unique nature of the racetrack,” Shehhi added.

“The track has served us well for over 25 years, with highest levels of safety and versatility as it suits both turf and dirt horses. It is only the issue of increased kickback which has created the situation, which is being rectified.”

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