x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Dubai ties with British horse racing scene strengthen

The ties between Dubai and Britain in the horse racing world are strong and nowhere is that on display more than at the Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

This has been a busy month for the enduring racing relationship between Dubai and Britain, and the emirate's extensive sponsorship of Future Champions Day at Newmarket on Saturday will cap it all off.

There are six stakes races on the seven-race card, the centrepiece of which is the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes for promising juveniles.

The Group 1 contest has proved to be a spectacular launch pad for equine talent, no more so than when Frankel secured his first victory at the highest level in the seven-furlong race two seasons ago.

Dubai's support of the meeting was increased last season when the emirate's long-standing association with the Dewhurst was extended across the card.

Six colts went forward yesterday at the final declaration stage, with the unbeaten Dawn Approach being the main attraction.

The presence of the colt underlines the bond between Newmarket Racecourse and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who bought a majority share in the son of New Approach from the trainer Jim Bolger this season.

Dawn Approach's principal rival is Ashdan, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and the pair will be joined by Leitir Mor, also trained by Bolger, while Aidan O'Brien has George Vancouver and The Ferryman. Charles Hills saddles Funk Soul Brother.

Dubai also sponsors the Group 2 Challenge Stakes, while Vision, the Dubai-based magazine, supports both the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, which features Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's Moojaahim.

"It goes almost without saying how much we value the continued support and commitment of Dubai to Dubai Future Champions Day," Amy Starkey, the managing director for Newmarket Racecourses, told The National.

"By having the name of Dubai so strongly associated with the Future Champions Day brand, it gives even greater prestige and significance to what is already a very important day in the flat racing calendar."

The race and meeting as a whole seals a multimillion pound deal made last week between Dubai Media Incorporated and the British-based Racecourse Media Group and Ascot Racecourse to broadcast live pictures of British racing throughout the UAE and the Middle East. The agreement, which begins in 2013, will see the iconic British meetings such as the English Classics, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood televised on the Dubai Sports Channel, as well as a continued association with the Dubai Racing Channel.

The British Champions Series, which packaged up Britain's elite races under the sponsorship of Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni's Qipco Holding last season, will also form a large part of the coverage.

That is clearly now looking like a good piece of business.

"I'm very thrilled by how it has all gone," Sheikh Fahad said.

"We were looking to advertise in Britain and promote Qipco in the UK. The love that the family has for bloodstock is a lot and we thought the series was good value."


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