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Top UAE jockeys resume rivalry at China showpiece

Dubai: Several leading UAE based jockeys, including reigning champion Tadhg O’Shea and former seven-time champion Ted Durcan, go head-to-head in the first Chengdu Dubai International Cup race day at Jinma Racecourse in Wenjiang District, China, on Sunday.

O’Shea and Durcan are joined by the likes of the globe-trotting Emirati Ahmad Ajtebi, French rider Gerald Avaranche, Richard Mullen and Royston French, among others, in a five-race card featuring horses that have raced and been trained in Dubai.

Nine horses will make up the fields for each of the first two races – the Yuan 500,000 (Dh295,585) Wenjiang Sprint (1200m) and the Yuan 500,000 Guangsha Handicap (1400m), while the three remaining races, the Yuan 500,000 Meydan Mile (1600m), the Yuan 750,000 (Dh443,377) Wenjiang Meydan Classic (1600m) and the Yuan 1,500,000 (Dh886,755) Chengdu Dubai International Cup (2200m) will see ten runners in action.

Both the Wenjiang Meydan Classic and Chengdu Dubai International Cup will be presented by international watchmaker Longines.

Former Meydan scorer Mutal Force, who is trained by two-time UAE champion Ali Rashid Al Raihe, heads a strong field of runners contest the feature race of the day, the Chengdu Dubai International Cup.

The six-year-old finished a close second on his most recent start at Al Ain Racecourse prior to be being shipped to China together with other top contenders including the Ahmad Bin Harmash’s consistent runner Izaaj, and Storm Belt, who is prepared by former UAE champion Doug Watson.

The Meydan Classic also looks a competitive contest with the Satish Seemar-trained duo Montmorency and Signs In The Sand having strong claims.

The landmark horserace meeting has been organised by The Meydan Group in partnership with the Chengdu Municipal Government, the Chengdu Sports Bureau, the Wenjiang District Government and the China Guangsha Group. It is the first race meeting ever held in mainland China to feature international horses undergoing both import and export quarantine procedures.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Kettle, veterinary officer for the Dubai Racing Club, said that exporting throughbreds in and out of the UAE to Chengdu, was ‘a remarkable achievement.’

“It has been brought about by the tireless efforts of all those involved,” he told delegates at a special equestrian forum while pointing out that the meticulous process had been overseen by China and UAE ministry officials. “There has been an intensive programme to guarantee that only healthy horses moved between the UAE and China.”

Dr Kettle, who is head of import and export of horses for the Emirates Racing Authority and in charge of quarantine for the DRC, outlined the detailed export process.

He said the programme had begun with extensive inter-governmental negotiations, pre-entry selection of the horses and testing, and pre-export quarantine.

“Preparations were made over many months to receive and care for the horses in China,” Dr Kettle added. “Then, since the horses arrived at Jinma Racecourse last week, a strict monitoring programme has been carried out.

“Twice daily temperature and health records have been kept and there has been daily veterinary supervision.

“It has been a perfect example of facilitating the temporary movement of racehorses through co-operation.”