x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

More focus on races in the region

The owners and breeders for Purebred Arabians were given a shot in the arm with the promise of more racing and bigger prize monies on the flat in the UAE season.

ABU DHABI // The owners and breeders for Purebred Arabians were given a shot in the arm with the promise of more racing and bigger prize monies on the flat in the UAE season. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa, chairman of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, having watched Nirwan win the President's Cup in a thriller at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday, said the Gulf states staged some of the best races for Purebred Arabians.

"We have been organising and sponsoring races in several European cities to promote the Purebred Arabians but in future we want to reduce what we do outside and focus more on the local races. "I don't think anywhere else the breed is promoted as much as in the Gulf, particularly the UAE. We tried to promote them in some of the European cities and we now realise the best is at home. "We have some of the best Arabian race horses besides Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. And I believe the future for the breed is in the region. We are not going to pull out of the existing sponsorships altogether, but we will be more selective."

The President's Cup - worth Dh1 million - was the richest race in the world for the Purebred Arabians, until the ?450,000 (Dh2.1m) Qatar Arabian World Cup in Longchamp, France, last year. Abu Dhabi has been unofficially declared the headquarters for the Purebred Arabians with races exclusively for the breed. Dubai stages the Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup night as the Arabian showpiece and as the traditional opener of the world's richest race meeting.

And Sheikh Sultan's announcement came as a massive boost for the local owners and the breeders. The UAEERF organised and sponsored races in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Russia and at the Newmarket racecourse in the UK as part of their worldwide programme to popularise Arabian races. apassela@thenational.ae