It may seem strange, and perhaps a trifle premature, to think about it so soon, but I’ve got a feeling that this could well be trainer Musabah Al Muhairi’s defining year as a trainer.
I’m not merely saying this because of the fact that he saddled four winners on the opening night’s racing at Meydan, but there was something very different in the man I could see leading in winner after winner.
The Al Muhairi I had known was replaced by a man who seemed to demonstrate a new-found confidence. This fact was further established every time I spoke to him in the winner’s enclosure as I was pleasantly surprised to observe the self-assurance that he flaunted.
He seems happier talking to journalists and has been going around doing what trainers do with more of a smile on his face. Perhaps this had more to do with the fact that he was accompanied by his two young sons at the races, and perhaps not. If he’s constantly producing the winners it will put smiles on the faces of all his fans as well. And Al Muhairi seems to have quite a large number of admirers judging by the loud cheers, wolf whistles and applause that he received every time he led a winner into the Meydan Parade Ring.
It all contributed to an enjoyable opening day’s racing and may well have set the tone for the rest of the season.
Whether Al Muhairi will be able to continue in the same vein only time will tell. But if he can even only replicate half the success he achieved on the opening night then he certainly looks to be one of the most feared trainers.
His horses appear to have an extra gear and that can only help the confidence of the jockeys that Al Muhairi summons. He explained that the yard has benefited from an aggressive training programme that he put in place during the off-season and from a team of staff geared up for success.
Al Muhairi, who experienced moderate success with a small string of horses in his debut season in 2010 has been at the forefront of the UAE racing scene over the last three seasons. However, he maintains that this year is going to be different as he has a higher calibre of horse in his yard.
He told me that while he has always had the numbers, it was the quality that was lacking for his horses to be competitive and win at higher levels. He also stressed that while he had the utmost respect for his peers, he was prepared to challenge for the top prizes, not just at Jebel Ali, his happy hunting ground, but at Meydan, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and the new track at Al Ain.
Going by what he accomplished on Thursday night at Meydan, perhaps we should take his affirmation seriously.