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Wednesday, December 17, 2003


The one millionth racegoer on the Yorkshire racecourses this year is set to attend Wetherby's two-day Sky Bet Christmas Meeting on Boxing Day Friday (December 26) and Saturday (December 27).

This will be a modern-era attendance record for the nine Yorkshire racecourses, breaking last year's total of 900,000 – which itself was a record.

The millionth racegoer will receive at Wetherby a free £200 bet from Sky Bet, along with the opportunity to judge a best turned-out horse award and view the race from the sponsor's box.
They will also be presented with a ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire' Season Ticket for 2004 and be invited to a future Wetherby meeting to have lunch for two in the Dine & View Restaurant.

Graham Orange, ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire's' public relations officer said: "To achieve an overall attendance of one million racegoers demonstrates what a marvellous year we have had in Yorkshire, as the popularity of racing continues to grow."


Al Maali, trained by the in form Doug Watson, can follow up from his recent win to land the 1,600 metre Nu'aimiyah Handicap at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday evening.

Willie Supple will partner Al Maali, as he did here a month ago when the son of Polar Falcon recorded an easy six length win over 1,500 metre. Last season Al Maali was a course and distance winner and has been a consistent runner, finishing in the top two in his last five appearances.

Mazin Al Kurdi, who is equal with Watson at the top of the trainer's championship table, runs the seven-year-old Conflict, the mount of Ted Durcan. Conflict was last seen out finishing ninth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night. He was only beaten a neck when finishing runner-up to Conroy in the Mahib Al Shimaal (Gr.3) on Super Saturday.

Allan Smith and Kieren Fallon will be represented by Seihali, who is making his UAE racing debut on Thursday evening. The four-year-old was a three length winner on his last start in England over 1,600 metres. The former charge of trainer Alec Stewart finished seventh at Royal Ascot in the Jersey Stakes (Gr.3), but was a bit outclassed on that occasion.

The final runner is the Erwan Charpy-trained Pacino, with Richard Mullen in the saddle, looks safely held by Al Maali when finishing tenth behind him on April 3rd.

Racing on Thursday kicks off with the Purebred Arabian prep race for the Al Sadiyat Mazrat Al Ruwayyah (Gr.2) due to be run at Nad Al Sheba on January 8th. The race should go to the Al Kurdi-trained Velte who was a short head runner-up to Al Anood in the National Day Cup on November 30th.

Iska Al Mels, trained by Watson, looks a danger, he was fourth in the National Day Cup but had solid winning form prior to that run. Van Nistelrooy, from the Al Kurdi stable, was disappointing on his first run in the UAE but it was also his first run on turf, he should appreciate Thursday's return to dirt. Smith's Khoutoubia was unlucky not to win the National Day Cup and will be there at the finish.

Nazeeh, trained by Al Kurdi and the mount of Gary Hind, looks the likely selection in the second, the 1,200 metre Al Khan Thoroughbred Maiden. The Benny The Dip colt was a long way runner up to Aramram on Friday at Jebel Ali and will be better suited in this company. Nazeeh's stable mate Attlee could go close if at his best.

It is hard to look past Prince of Denmark in the Al Hamraniyah Thoroughbred conditions race over 1,600 metres. Trained by Al Kurdi, Prince of Denmark, who will have Durcan in the saddle, was a comfortable pillar to post course winner over 1,400 metres on November 20th. On that occasion the Danetime colt beat Slane Hill and Storm of Tara, both of whom line up in this contest but look safely held.

Smith's Benkram looks set for another win in the Murbih Thoroughbred Handicap over 1,500 metres, following his maiden win over 1,400 metres at Jebel Ali's opening meet. The four-year-old Zafonic colt will be partnered by Paul Smith.

Al Kurdi's My Pleasure should be respected following his last two outings where he finished runner-up and was staying on well in the closing stages at Nad Al Sheba a week ago. Others that can go close are the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Tropical Star, a convincing course winner two weeks ago over slightly further. Wilde, from the Paddy Rudkin stables, ran on late to take second behind Cherry Pickings a week ago, he has definite place claims.

An interesting runner is the Smith-trained Binsina who weakened to finish last at Nad Al Sheba's opening meeting, Fallon will be in the saddle and this runner may be worth a second look.

Al Kurdi's Asood, a course runner-up two weeks ago can land the Al Raa'fah Thoroughbred Handicap over 2,000 metres. Watson's consistent Classicist also has a chance under Patrick Dobbs, as does the Smith-trained Dawaarr, who was disappointing on his UAE debut but can go close on previous UK form.

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