By Ed Attwood
$2.7bn grandstand and racecourse ready for start of int'l racing carnival.
Dubai’s landmark racecourse, Meydan, will open for business on Thursday to coincide with the opening of the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
At an estimated cost of $2.7 billion, the grandstand and racecourse combine to form the largest integrated racing facility in the world.
The grandstand alone is 1.6 kilometres long and can seat a capacity crowd of 60,000.
Also included within the 18 square kilometre grandstand complex are a luxury hotel, Imax cinema and the Meydan Museum.
One of the new features unveiled on Thursday will be a ‘tapeta’ all-weather synthetic track, which replaces the old dirt track used at the now-demolished Nad Al Sheba racecourse.
The introduction of the new surface should encourage wider participation for thoroughbreds from all over the world.
Eight races are on the card, including the Maktoum Challenge, with Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin stable well represented. The action starts at 6pm.
“I’m gob smacked after what I’ve seen, and I just can’t find the words to describe the amazing experience of racing at the Meydan Racecourse, it’s just out of this world,” said Godolphin jockey Frankie Dettori, who rode on the course for the first time during a trial event last week.
“The tracks are great and very even, and the lights are beautiful. I absolutely loved it.”
The Dubai International Racing Carnival is one of a number of events leading up to the showpiece Dubai World Cup – the world’s richest horse race – which will be held on March 28.