Proving his naysayers wrong, Mohamed Al Ahmed used his extensive experience in the equestrian field to the maximum and pulled off one of the most successful seasons in Jebel Ali Racecourse’s history.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
After being appointed general manager of Jebel Ali Racecourse just a month ahead of the last season, Mohamed Al Ahmed pulled off one of the most successful seasons in racecourse history.
Earning plaudits from leading trainers and jockeys for smooth racing during the last season, Ahmed got another distinction, as he became the youngest racecourse manager in the Middle East and second in the world.
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, patron of Jebel Ali Racecourse, injected new blood by naming the 34-year-old Ahmed as its new manager.
His confidence in the youthful energy and expertise of Ahmed signaled a new era in the history of the Jebel Ali track and stables.
Molly Dingwall became the youngest racecourse manager in the world when she took charge at Carlisle Racecourse in Cumbria, England, in 2018.
Four years later, she joined Haydock Park Racecourse in Lancashire as their general manager.
When Ahmed joined the prestigious racecourse, it was not in the realm of his fantasy that his detractors were out there to create hurdles and didn’t want him to succeed.
Nonchalant Ahmed, the new general manager of Jebel Ali Racecourse, demonstrated his keen understanding of racing and the track when he recognized the seriousness of the problem.
Proving his naysayers wrong, Ahmed used his extensive experience in the equestrian field to the maximum and the rest was history.
While focusing on keeping the track in perfect shape, Ahmed also plugged the loopholes and brought about a significant reduction in the overall budget. Through his efforts, it came down to between 15 and 20 percent without compromising on quality.
Bringing change, the new manager rebranded the full racecourse.
The guest area and winners' enclosure were given a facelift, and new surprises were added for the fans to amplify the party atmosphere for which the Jebel Ali Racecourse is famous.
Speaking to Gulf Today, he credited Sheikh Ahmed’s support for helping him host a successful season and overcome the challenges.
He also hailed the vision of Sheikh Ahmed, which came in handy for hosting smooth races. The iconic horseshoe-shaped racecourse organized a total of 11 meetings during the season, including three internationally recognized stakes races: the Jebel Ali Stakes, Jebel Ali Mile, and Jebel Ali Sprint.
"I would like to thank Sheikh Ahmed for showing confidence in me and giving me a chance to work for such a prestigious racecourse. His wise leadership skills and dynamic vision helped me a lot in managing affairs.
"I also want to thank Engineer Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, Director General of the Office of Sheikh Ahmed and General Manager of the Emirates Racing Authority, for his support," said Ahmed.
Ahmed, who belongs to a family that has been in racing for decades, said his affection for horses started when he was just three years old.
"I started going to the stable with my father at the age of three and soon started learning the ropes."
His family has been associated with horse racing for many decades, as his grandfather and father both worked as jockeys.
His father, also named Ahmed, was the record winner of Bahrain’s Kings Cup and Japan Cup.
Ahmed’s faced a litmus test in February when a heavy downpour that lashed the UAE for three consecutive days left the track flooded.
Hopes of having the eighth meeting were in limbo. The Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) inspected the track at 8:30 am and were adamant about canceling the race.
Racing against the clock, the Ahmed-led team swung into action and promised to make the track ready for racing in three hours and pull off a miracle.
He himself worked alongside the team and changed the ERA’s notion. The seven-race card meeting went off without a hitch.
In his first year, Ahmed also supervised the launch of the new initiative, the Emirates Sprint Racing Series.
This initiative, which began under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed, aimed to support owners, trainers, and jockeys, as well as link racecourses and promote horse racing in the country.
The Emirates Sprint Racing Series also aims to expand in the new season to include Meydan, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain racecourses to consolidate and link with Jebel Ali.
Much to the delight of Jebel Ali Racecourse’s manager, the surface received appreciation from the stewards, trainers, and jockeys following the conclusion of the season.
Sam Shinsky, the Emirates Racing Authority official who keeps a close eye on the track, was happy with the work done by Ahmed and thanked the organizing committee for the successful conclusion of the season without any injuries to the jockeys.
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