By Andy Sambidge
Top jockeys join Dubai's ruler as racetrack is put through its paces, prior to Jan 28 debut.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was joined by an elite line-up from the horse racing world as the new Meydan racecourse was put through its first test.
The test race included Frankie Dettori, Kieren Fallon, Richard Hills, Ted Durcan and Patrick Dobbs and was put on to test the track at the new venue, which is scheduled to open on January 28.
Sheikh Mohammed was taken on a tour of the racecourse and associated facilities, including the paddock, grandstand and jockey's changing rooms, news agency WAM reported.
Last month, developers said work on the AED10bn Meydan grandstand and racecourse – home to the world’s richest horse race – was on track to open for the start of the Dubai 2010 race season.
The Dubai World Cup – with a prize pot of $10m – will be held on March 27, with the race season set to kick off on January 28.
The grandstand, which is the world’s largest at 1.6km – the equivalent of 22 Boeing 747s - is part of a wider 200 million sq ft development, including a business hub, IMAX theatre, villas and high rise apartments.
The grandstand, which also boasts the world’s longest LED screen, can accommodate 98,000 people at full capacity – 17,500 seated and 80,500 standing.
Organisers said they expected about 300,000 people to attend the 10 races in Dubai's 2010 horse race calendar.