May 22, 2013, Report by Nelly Philippot-Hermanne, President AHRCB. The Arabian Horse Racing Club of Belgium (AHRCB) will award over 100.000 euro prize money in 2013
After a couple of years of dimmed activity, due to the reconstruction of the Wellington racetrack of Ostend, the races for Pure-bred Arabian horses are blooming again. Thanks to different sponsors from the Middle-East, the A.H.R.C.B. (Arabian Horse Racing Club of Belgium) can again stage several international races of high standard in Ostend.
This historic racecourse of international reputation is very attractive for the sponsors by its special atmosphere. Due to its location along the seaside, tourists and other holiday-makers join the usual race-goers resulting in a very enthusiastic attendance. The initial Ostend-racetrack was built under the impulse of King Leopold II in 1883 and the summer meeting was very popular, also with the British race-goers. At that time, during the meetings, the flat races alternated with pigeon shooting and other activities.The Casino of Ostend and the beach with fishing and bathing-possibilities were the other attractions of Ostend, “The Queen of Seaside Cities” of Belgium. Later on, the buildings (destroyed during the war) have been redone and the actual concept dates from 1947. The actual architecture definitely represents the school of Horta, in a judicious mix of metal and glass-elements. The double helix staircase is a unique feature.
From the beginning, the turf track had its exceptional straight line of 1000m. An even more special feature is the racket shape of the long loop, that made a change of lead compulsory for the longer races. Apart from the flat racing, the track also frequently hosted hurdle-races on turf, also making use of the change of lead. Steeple-chase races were scheduled on most race-cards. Later on, a track for trotting was added at the inside of the turf loop, in front of the grandstand.
For over 20 years, Arab racing went on alongside with Thoroughbred racing or sometimes during Trotting-meetings. In the early years, there were few of them, but a steady growth in the years ’90, saw their numbers increase up to 24 per season.
The Middle–East being interested in races for the Arabian horses that are part of their cultural heritage, we staged yearly, from 1997 till 2007, several major international races (Group II), sponsored either by the Racing and Equestrian Club of Qatar or by the Emirates Equestrian Federation. In the past, we recorded during these recurrent events, representatives from up to 14 different countries!
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The rehabilitation of the Grandstand is now completed and despite some other parts of the buildings still need to be done, racing for Thoroughbreds has bloomed again in Ostend since 2012. Racing for Arab horses follows this renewal and in 2013, AHRCB has scheduled at least 10 races, among them 3 prestigious races in Ostend.
The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, during which the Emirates Equestrian Federation offers for the best 5 years old and over, a (for Belgian – bred Arabian) the record amount of 30.000 euro in prize-money, will be run on Monday 8th of July 2013 over 1600 meter.
During the Qatar Wellington Cup staged on the 22nd of July, the 4 years old and over will compete over 2100m, for the attractive prize-money of 20.000 euro, generously allotted by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club.
The same amount will be available for the fastest 4-years and over, during the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, very pleasantly sponsored by the H.H. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival.
This latter race, as well as the first one of these prestigious AHRCB-races, has been accepted from the first year the label of « Listed Pure Arab ».
Of course some of the best horses of Europe will be entered in these richly provided races and on top, they will be joined by runners from the Middle-East that come to defend, during the summer months in Europe, the colours of their owners. These select horses belonging to the Sheikh’s, are among the best of the world and will make the competition very tough!
Besides these prestige-races, our generous sponsors also support a series of races intended to encourage our local breeders, the small owners and local trainers. These races are run at the racetrack of Wallonia in Ghlin, also with the support and sympathy of the board of the track for Arabian racing. These races usually offer a prize-money of 4 to 5.000 euro and attract systematically participants from Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland and sometimes England, coming to reinforce the number of Belgium starters.
In 2013, the AHRCB will again have the chance to reward the swiftest Drinkers of the Wind with a total amount of over 100.000 euro, a priceless encouragement for the breeding of athletic Pure Arabian Horses.