Yesterday after spending the morning on an old wooden dhow exploring the Dubai Creeek, we met up with fellow Tasmanian Nick Hay who has spent the last 2 years as a Darley Flying Start team member. Nick is currently working in Dubai at the Millenium Stables at the new Medyan Racecourse, as well as assisting local farrier Rob in tending to the needs of racehorses here in Dubai.
When I contacted Nick to arrange to meet him at the huge new Dubai Mall shopping centre I was wondering how on earth he was going to find us amidst the thousands of fellow tourists and locals that seem to flock to these mega-centres. No fear I had a new bright green Armidale cap with GRASSY embroidered on it to give him and decided I’d wear it so he could see us. He spotted us immediately and said you couldn’t miss the Armidale cap! Jen and I were intrigued by Nick’s footwear – rubber slipper like things that resemble gloves – he assures us that they are the nearest thing to running in bare feet and very comfortable. He should know as he’s just completed a 10km race here last week as part of the Dubai marathon series. Yes you guessed it – its the richest marathon in the world worth 250,000 to the winner. Nick looks trim and super fit and was obviously pleased to see us.
He took us out to see the new Medyan racecourse – its all you read about and more! Unbelievably big – the grandstands and 5 star hotel cover over 1 km! The grass track looks to be in superb condition ready for the World Cup in one weeks time. The Tapeta track is also impressive but is almost black in colour – Nick maintains this is due to sand contamination. Speaking of sand we have had constant sand storms since we arrived with visibility similar to a Longford fog in mid winter! The temperature is far more pleasant though – constantly hovering around the 30 degree mark. We checked out the Royal box where the Sheik and his entourage sit and the saddling and mounting enclosure and walked out under the tunnel where the horses come out onto the track. Everything, and I mean everything here in Dubai, is done on a grand scale. The pre parade ring is large enough for a dressage areana or a show jumping competition! The stripping stalls would fit an elephant in them, and I am unsure how many people would fit into the grandstands but many, many thousands. It really does have to be seen to be believed.
Next Nick took us to the Tapeta training track then we drove through the area that houses all the racehorses, and the international quarantine area. Very handy to have Nick to gain access to all these places. They are stringently policed with guards and gates, but they all know Grassy and we seemed to be waved through without any worries.
After 3 solid days sightseeing we are having a ‘rest day’ today catching up on reading, emails and for Jen sleep. Sadly Jen injured her back just before we departed so she hasn’t been sleeping all that well. Hopefully some rest today will improve matters. Tomorrow we are planning to head to Abu Dhabi the capital of the United Arab Emirates to catch up with Jen’s brother in law who works there. It will be interesting to get out of the city even if its on a freeway (evidently almost dead straight all the way) to see another city!
Back home we notice that the Armidale reared horses continue to perform with LADALI (Ladoni – Ali’s Blessing), RED WILLOW (Savoire Vivre – Arapeho), and SPEED CONTROL (Tough Speed – Black Cent) all winning at Mowbray on Wednesday evening. Also wonderful to see the we are represented by 3 runners at the VALLEY tonight with FIRST COURSE, BUZZING ALONG, and the great mare LADY LYNETTE all running. Lady Lynette is in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes over a mile.