x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Horse racing: Purebred Arabian horses are racing onto world stage

The final of the 12-race HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship has gained plenty of notoriety and will conclude at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club in November, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Female jockey Marta Pisarek, right, rides Altesse Kossack to a win in the British leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship on Saturday at Newbury Racecourse in England. Wam
Female jockey Marta Pisarek, right, rides Altesse Kossack to a win in the British leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship on Saturday at Newbury Racecourse in England. Wam

Marta Pisarek is not a name most fans are familiar with, but by year's end, that could change.

Pisarek won the British leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship on Saturday at Newbury Racecourse in England.

It was only her second ride on a purebred Arabian, but the manner with which she coaxed the outsider Altesse Kossack to deny 11 others was impressive.

Courtesy of her win, Pisarek will be invited to participate in the final of the World Championships in Abu Dhabi in November.

"I've never received so many phone calls in one day," the 30 year old said. "I wouldn't let anyone take my gap.

"I have heard loads of stories about Arabian horses, but I just listened to the horse and let her do the job. They are the same as thoroughbreds to me."

Altesse Kossack was bred in Holland. Pisarek was born in Poland, where last year she rode her first purebred Arabian to finish fourth, but she now works full-time for Ted Walsh, the National Hunt trainer based in Kildare, Ireland.

Pisarek epitomises the increased internationalisation of purebred Arabian racing, and with over 10,000 people in attendance at Newbury, where Godolphin's Farhh won the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, the message is set to spread further.

The Mubarak Ladies World Championship is a set of 12 races that culminate in the finale at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

The series started at Al Flaij Racecourse in Oman, Muscat, in January, and alongside Newbury, the other racecourses involved in the series include Caulfield in Australia, where the prestigious Caulfield Cup is held, and Hoppegarten in Germany, which stages the Group 1 Grosser Preis Von Berlin in July. Meandre, the Dubai World Cup runner, won the latter last season.

"Who would have ever thought that lady riders would be riding Arabians on the hallowed turf of a premier racecourse in the UK?" said Pat Buckley, the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club steward and former jockey.

"I am very proud of what has happened in Arabian racing over the past few years. Thanks to Her Highness Sheikh Fatima and her undying efforts to make the ladies be able to take part in this great sport.

"The like of this has never happened before. We are all working so hard at this and I believe Arabian racing will go much further forward in a short space of time."

Pisarek has been to Abu Dhabi once before. She did not qualify for the final last year because she did not win on her Arabian debut in Warsaw, but she was still invited by series organisers to attend alongside around 140 other female jockey hopefuls.

She claims to have been overwhelmed by the experience and on Saturday her win on the undercard to the Lockinge Stakes meant so much to her, she could barely sign autographs for two racegoers 15 minutes after the race, because her hands were shaking so badly. She will be better prepared come November, however.

"I came all the way from Ireland to ride the horse and then won and she got me straight up at the line. I'm so proud of her," Pisarek added.

"I was in Abu Dhabi last year, so I know what it is like. The racecourse looked nice from the stands, but I wasn't allowed to walk the track, so I'm looking forward to riding it this time. I'll be ready for whatever comes my way now."

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