x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Racing poet's salute to an annual spectacle

Henry Birtles, aka The Racing Poet, writes an ode to the Dubai World Cup exclusively for The National.

Dubawi at Dalham Hall in Newmarket. Photo courtesy Darley
Dubawi at Dalham Hall in Newmarket. Photo courtesy Darley
The United Kingdom has produced many celebrated figures to grace the sport of kings. But outside racing circles, one of the most creative of them is not so well known.

Henry Birtles has created a niche for writing and delivering bespoke racing poems in the UK and abroad.

His work Best Mate has become an essential part of the UK's Cheltenham Gold Cup Day when he recites the piece beside the statue of the great horse after whom the poem is titled.

Another poem, The Derby, recited to the British Queen and a crowd of 150,000 by the famous Shakespearean actor Brian Blessed, has also been well used by the BBC during their coverage of Cheltenham.

Here, exclusively printed in The National, is his poem dedicated to the Dubai World Cup and the sporting heritage it represents.

The Return

The Desert summons back the few to where it all began

From whence 'The Three' of noble blood set forth to foreign lands

'The Three' who sired the swiftest breed and gave this world our sport

A spectacle that levels all from Street to Royal Court

It took a Prince, now Ruler, of this land known as Dubai

To bring their sons and daughters back and raise the bar this high

To offer prizes never seen and force the hand of those

Who say they own the finest horse, to prove, not just suppose

And so again we'll feel the heat that feeds our hearts desire

To see the best the world can throw from Racing's blazing fire

That lures us from four corners, where gathered as one clan

We'll hail the horse who rules this course and sets alight Meydan

So thank you Sheikh Mohammed for another World Cup Feast

Your home Dubai has proved once more that wonders never cease


© Henry Birtles


The writer has become known in racing circles as "The Racing Poet". He also runs HBA, a sports media consultancy specialising in television rights. HBA works with international sports federations and major television networks. In the Middle East, Mr Birtles is closely involved with the UAE media industry and the coverage of international horse racing. He also manages the racing interests of Elizabeth Hurley and her fiancé, Shane Warne, whom he introduced to racehorse ownership through Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

For more information visit: www.hba1.co.uk, www.racingpoems.co.uk and www.highclereracing.co.uk