x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Purebred Arabian festival grows into a magnificent seven series

The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Flat Racing Festival is to increase in size, including one at the Delaware Park in the United States in the summer.

ABU DHABI // The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Flat Racing Festival for Purebred Arabians is to increase in size, with seven races planned, including one at the Delaware Park in the United States in the summer. With more than ?1million (Dh4.9m) prize money, the series for the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Cup starts with the Group-Two Prix Cartage at the Toulouse Racecourse on April 23.

"This year we have increased the number of races to seven, three more than the first year," said Lara Sawaya, the director of the festival series. "Included in the programme are Delaware Park, Poland, Germany and Russia." "The owners and breeders of the Purebred Arabians all over the world can look forward to this festival series as an annual event. We also have plans to extend it to South America next year and we are already working on it."

The competition was held for the first time last year, with the Emirati trainer Bakhit al Ketbi winning the inaugural trainers' championship. He shared the owner's prize with Abdul Basit al Yaqoub and Khalid Khalifa al Naboodah, who also took the Breeder's award. Wayne Smith was crowned the leading jockey. Jean Pierre de Gasta, the president of the French Arabian Racing Authority, said Abu Dhabi had been promoting Arabian races since 1994.

"Arabian racing was unknown in Europe but more and more people are aware of it," he said. "Arabian racing dates back to 1862 in France, yet not many people are aware, but now they do with the kind of exposure they receive." A location for the race in Russia is yet to be confirmed, although November 11 has been provisionally scheduled for the event. @Email:apassela@thenational.ae