By Sam Turner
Friday evening sees Meydan Racecourse opens its doors for the first time to stage the eagerly awaited Dubai Racing Carnival, so who better to ask about the experience of participating at the iconic venue than a successful jockey.
Step forward popular Brazilian rider Bernardo Pinheiro who returns to the UAE looking to continue the impressive momentum built in recent campaigns which have seen his winning totals increase season by season.
In an exclusive interview with Adiyat Racing Plus, Bernardo explains the intricacies of both the dirt and turf tracks at Meydan and identifies what it takes to win on either surface.
ST: Welcome back Bernardo, it’s good to have you back in the UAE for the 2023-24 season. You have already made a bright start to the new campaign; I see from your Instagram feed that you have settled in quickly and have enjoyed some early starts riding track work!
BP: Thank you Sam, yet it is great to be back in the UAE. It’s a place which is very special to me as I have enjoyed some good times here already and I am really enjoying the new season.
ST: While you have been busy riding and enjoying success at some of the other UAE venues in the opening weeks of the season, it must be great to have racing at Meydan back this weekend?
BP: Meydan Racecourse is a unique racecourse for me – it’s so special and has provided some wonderful memories. The surfaces are always perfect, and I can’t wait to get racing there.
ST: Talking of surfaces, please describe what it’s like to ride on the Meydan dirt track.
BP: The dirt track is a unique track and it is very challenging. It is a very sharp track with a small straight. Usually, the horses need to be fit and the races are run at a strong pace, so a horse needs to keep going.
I have been lucky to ride work on the track since I arrived back in Dubai, and they always do an amazing job with the surface. The track has been so good pre-season so far and I’m sure it will be exactly the same when the season starts.
ST: The turf track at Meydan always earns rich praise, I’m sure it must be a pleasure to ride on?
BP: I always think the Turf track at Meydan is a sea of grass! It is a paradise for the horses.
It is a huge track with lovely long turns and a long straight.
Usually, the races on the turf track aren’t run quite as quickly as the dirt events.
The races are often a little more tactically run because the long straight and the long turn give every type of horse a chance to win.
It is extremely impressive how they keep the grass and the surface so lush and the ground for the horses is so good. The ground is kept perfectly for the horses with a lovely cushion – not too hard, not too soft.
It is a very fair track which doesn’t have a huge advantage for front runners or hold up horses as the straights give everyone a fair chance of winning.
It is just such a privilege to ride on the track and I can’t wait till Friday!