Women’s day out at Arabian Racing Conference

    June 17 Den Haag Holland~After a hard day’s deliberations on the opening day, delegates of Second World Arabian Racing Conference attended and enjoyed a welcome party at the Duivenvoorde Castle. And on Friday morning they were back and for the first time in the history of Arabian racing an all-women panel decked the dais to highlight the role of ‘Women in Arabian Racing’.
Photo: (l-r) Suzana Santesson, Lara Sawaya, HE Sheikha Najla al Qassimi, Hannie Maasdijk, Dr. Inge Wijnberg, Genny Haynes, Kathy Smoke.
  Germany’s Suzana Santesson, Fegentri’s General Secretary and one who has fought many a battle in her country to gain recognition for both women as well as Purebred Arabian Racing, played the role of moderator to perfection and soon the packed hall got to learn of the exploits and expertise of each of the women speakers.
It was only appropriate that Her Excellency  Sheikha Najla Al Qassimi, the UAE’s Ambassador to Sweden gave an insight into the progress of women and their role in horse racing in the UAE, as she is one of the first women envoys of her country.
“If you look at history you will see that world horse racing saw women’s involvement as early as the 1850s, and then recently in 1940s women were allowed to be trainers and then it was as late as in 1969  women jockeys began to take part,” Shaikha Najla said.
“But in the UAE lady riders have been of international level at a much faster pace and with the UAE having been founded only in 1971 that is fast,” she said.
The UAE envoy reiterated the UAE’s support for Arabian racing and thanked the Emirates Women’s Union for the HH Shaikha Fatma Bint Mubarak Ladies Fegentri Cup and HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs for the Arabian Racing Conference.
Lara Sawaya, Director of Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Festival said, “This year we are starting with a HH Shaikha Fatma Bint Mubarak Ladies Fegentri Cup race here in Holland and will stage one more inAbu Dhabi. With support from the Emirates Women’s Union these races are being staged and we are looking at five races next year.”
“The whole idea of increasing the prize money is to ensure that owners and trainers take these races seriously and enter good horses. This in turn will be a huge boost to the lady amateur jockeys who will benefit tremendously by racing top horses,” Lara Sawaya said, explaining in details the support of the UAE for Arabian racing.
Kathy Smoke of the US, Hannie Maasdijk (NL/Qtr), Dr. Inge Wijnberg (Neth) and Genny Haynes (UK) laid bare their experiences with Arabian horses and told the delegates why women in growing numbers were involved in Arabian racing.
Smoke said it was the ‘nurturing’ quality of women that brought out the best from the ‘intelligent’ Arabian horse while Dr. Wijnberg put together a crisp presentation in techniques and treatment of Arabian horses.
Maasdijk detailed her experiences with Arabian horses during her 20-year stint in Qatar and predicted huge success for the HH Shaikha Fatma Bint Mubarak Ladies Fegentri Cup races.
Haynes and Smoke also highlighted the barriers that Arabian racing faced at the hands of Thoroughbred officials in their respective countries. The ‘Step-motherly’ treatment to Purebred Arabian racing in many regions of the world was highlighted.
Friday afternoon’s focus on “Vets and Nutrition’ turned out to be a riveting session and trainers, owners and breeders were unanimous in proclaiming it as highly educative and useful afternoon.
Dr. Mohammed Al Mashmoum (Morocco) was the moderator while Dr. Roland Devolz (FR) was forceful in making his case on various aspects of medicine, prohibited substances and regulations.
Dr. Andrew Daglish (UK/UAE), Dr. Abdulwahab Amira (Tun/ UAE), Dr. Michael Daems (Qatar), Dr. Abdelilah Araba (Morocco) and Dr Russel Multon (New Zealand/UAE) actively participated with the delegates and gave an account of their experiences during the session. Mikael Holmström (Swe) also spoke of the latest developments and the connections of Arabian Racing continued their discussions with the experts well after the session came to a close.
The Conference concludes on Saturday and the morning session is on ‘Future and Promotion’ while a Workshop will bring the curtain down later in the day.
The Conference is part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival which is organized by ADACH, co-ordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society. The Festival’s activities are staged with support from Invest AD, HSBC, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, Areej Al Ameerat, La Sirene, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2011,Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
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