Tommos World of Racing!
I am lucky enough to visit many of the world's top racetracks and race meetings but the one track that I love going to more than most - and where I bump into lots of interesting people- is Jebel Ali in Dubai.
It is free to get into, it regularly attracts crowds for their fortnightly meetings of around 8,000 and there really is something for everyone!
It's very much a family affair and standing in the Shadwell Box and looking down over the track it's like looking down on a sea of people all relaxing, some having food and picnics, children running around playing and everyone seems in a good mood!
Of course the free competitions help and with over 100 electrical items that are given away as prizes such as toasters, phones and yes even microwaves not to mention the pick 6 competition and the special star prize of a car - it means the family can have a virtually free day out with the chance of winning something big!
It's not all plain sailing of course and one lady I spoke to on the way out felt a bit frustrated that the car should have been won by the same gentleman from Sudan for the 18 th time,
Apparently he buys hundreds of tickets that cost 10 dirhams each so that increases his chance of winning which he does regularly. What annoyed the lady was that she can only afford the cost of 1 ticket so that reduces the chance of her winning!
In a free market place ' you pays your money and you take your chance ' but I do feel a bit sorry for people who can only afford 1 ticket and perhaps something can be done to help them because the chance of winning something like a brand new motor car is a great incentive.
Another thing I like about Jebel Ali is the way they give best turned out awards to the stable staff in every race - very kindly sponsored by Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship - and these awards certainly impressed visitor Guy Henderson, chief executive officer of Ascot Racecourse back in the UK who told me" we should do more of this at Ascot!'
It's good to know the boss of one of the most famous racecourses in the world should learn something from Jebel Ali!
Then I bumped into one of the world's great cricketers - Chris silverwood - who was one of the fast bowlers for England, Yorkshire and Middlesex and who is now manager of top England county side Essex.
He brought his team to Dubai for some important pre season training and took the chance to visit Jebel Ali and he told me - "this place is fantastic! It's got a great atmosphere and there's a real buzz about the place!"
And then after the big race - won for the 6th time by Dhruba Selvaratnam this time with Morawij -it was great to see the smiling faces on the winner's rostrum because it brought together HH Sheikh Ahmed and HH Sheikh Hamdan - the two people who ensure Jebel Ali is so successful.
The race was sponsored by Sheikh Hamdan's Derrinstown Stud so HE Merza al Sayegh who looks after many of Sheikh Hamdan's interests presented the trophy to Shareef al Halawani who helps run the track so well for Sheikh Ahmed!
HH Sheikh Hamdan had a winner himself when Sahaafy won the Shadwell 7 furlong handicap under a fine positive ride from Paul Hanagan 'the managan' and Justify romped away with the Dubai Duty Free handicap in the style of a horse who is going places!
And finally....Mizbah won the closest finish of the day in the last race of the day owned by the many enthusiastic owners who go under the banner EERC.
And two of the horse's owners just happen to be 8 years old and 16 months old!
As I said Jebel Ali really is the family racecourse and long may it continue!
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