A reorganisation of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's horse racing operation will see a more centralised approach overseen by Philippe Barbe.
Philippe Barbe will help organise a new operational plan
ABU DHABI // Plans are in place to bring Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's breeding operation in France and the training stables in the Emirates and overseas under one team that would coordinate and monitor his horses and ensure the best match of horses and races.
At present, Sheikh Mansour's horses are handled by several trainers, both in the UAE and Europe.
Philippe Barbe, who has been charged with overseeing the new management system alongside Abdullah Al Khouri, Sheikh Mansour's racing manager, said things had to be streamlined and acknowledged that keeping up with all the people, and animals, is a complicated process.
"It is hard to monitor the welfare of the horses when there are too many handlers, particularly when they have to race in different countries under different trainers," Barbe said. "Sheikh Mansour has a breeding operation in France and some of them race in Europe before being flown to the UAE. And most of them are burnt out when they arrive here because there is nobody to monitor their welfare.
"The plan is now to streamline that process from this summer."
Barbe, 62, will also pass on his experience to Majed Al Jahouri, the young Emirati, who is now one of the principal trainers for Sheikh Mansour in the UAE, along with Eric Lemartinel, Saifaldin Deeb, Gillian Duffield and Mohammed Al Ketbi.
"Majed is sure to become one of the leading trainers in the country not only because he has some good horses but as a hard working young man with a lot of horse sense," said the Frenchman.
"I am very glad to pass all my knowledge to him and work as a team to achieve more success for Sheikh Mansour. His breeding stock of the Purebred Arabians is one of the best around, and I don't see any reason why we can't be successful."
Barbe started with his new job in December with 10 horses in a stable located at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
He is optimistic his role will expand this year, both in the UAE and France.
"I really like the new job because I am at peace," he said.
"The people with whom I work allow me to do my job without any pressure.
"They didn't give me a lot to start with but I have a couple of good horses to look forward for this season. Sheikh Mansour has some very good breeding operations and good stock, so hopefully I will have more for next season.
"Part of my job is also to manage the horses in France. The objective is to win the biggest races for the Arabians around the world. I haven't been to his breeding operation in France but I hope to make a visit in the summer."
BARBE WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR FIRST RUNNER
Barbe will have to wait a bit longer to saddle his first horse this season for his new employer.
Harthaan, a five-year-old chestnut Arabian mare, was scratched from Sunday night's Abu Dhabi card as she was too highly rated, at 96, to run in a maiden race.
Harthaan will be aimed instead at the President's Cup meeting in Abu Dhabi on February 5 or at the second round of the Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse one week later.
Barbe said: "She is too highly rated to run in a maiden and too high to be tried in a handicap, so the next option is to run her in either the President's Cup or the Maktoum Challenge without really having a look at her run in a race.
"I don't know how good she will be in this company, but there are no other races for her. She is still a maiden after five starts in France, but she has a high rating and for that reason I have to run her in stronger company."
Salaamah is Barbe's main hope from a string of 10. She will be aimed at the Kahayla Classic, the traditional opener and the Arabian showpiece on Dubai World Cup night.
The bay mare by Njewman, rated 105, is already a winner of three races in France including a Group 2 prize. The trainer plans to run her in the Baniyas, a Group 2 race over 1,400m, at Meydan Racecourse. Barbe has preferred to run her on the Tapeta at Meydan rather than the home turf track in Abu Dhabi, which "was hard for a horse that's just recovered from a leg injury".
He said: "We will give her an outing and see how she comes out of it. She has not run in more than 15 months, but I am hopeful."
Sunday night's meeting in Abu Dhabi is a seven-race card including a race for the thoroughbreds, a handicap rated at 75 to 95, run over 1,200 metres.