x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Chengdu plan on hold for UAE’s horses

Meydan Group’s vision to bring a world–class race meeting to China has been postponed due to a lack of quarantine protocol.

Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe has horses among the 75 stuck in limbo at Dubai awaiting a quarantine agreement to be struck with China. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe has horses among the 75 stuck in limbo at Dubai awaiting a quarantine agreement to be struck with China. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Meydan Group’s vision to bring a world–class race meeting to China has been postponed due to a lack of quarantine protocol.

A fixture featuring horses trained in the UAE and ridden by jockeys who ply their trade throughout the UAE season was outlined at the Meydan Racecourse in March by Saeed Al Tayer, chairman of the board.

The race meeting was set to be staged at Chengdu in Sichuan province, and it was understood to be taking place on Saturday.

In a statement yesterday, Meydan said it is working with the UAE Ministry of Environment & Water, along with “their partners in China”, in talks with China’s quarantine body “to develop import and export conditions which would enable the participation of the UAE international horses for the one-day race event to be held at Jinma Lake Racecourse in the Wenjiang District located in Chengdu”.

A five-race card had been proposed at Chengdu, which has a turf track and temporary grandstands.

Around 75 horses are in quarantine in Dubai awaiting shipping to China, and they could remain there until a resolution of the deadlock can be found.

According to a source who requested anonymity, the horses are primed to race.

“Meydan are doing all they can and the officials trying to get us over there,” he said.

“They have done everything humanly possible to get us to China.

“I am sure the meeting will take place but when, we do not know. Nobody seems to know.”

Horses in the keeping of prominent trainers like Satish Seemar, Erwan Charpy, Doug Watson, Mubarak bin Shafya, Abdulla bin Huzaim, Musbah Al Muhairi and Ali Rashid Al Raihe are among those in quarantine.

The fixture would have been the first of its kind to be staged at a racecourse in China, although an eight-race meeting was held at Hohhot in Inner Mongolia last month. Four races contained imported horses and four were run with local horses. The imported horses were to be sold on to Chinese ownership.

The centrepiece to the meeting was the China National Cup, a race worth one million Chinese yuan (Dh604.000) and was won by Beat Of The Drum, a horse formerly with Richard Hannon.

Chengdu, a city of nearly eight million in south-west China, has been positioning itself as a centre for thoroughbred racing and equestrian sports in the country.

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