HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival’s World Arabian Horse Racing Forum in Madrid
3 May 2018, Madrid, Spain ~ There was a strong call for standardization of rules and regulations governing the sport of Purebred Arabian racing on the opening day of the three-day 9th edition of the World Arabian Horse Racing Forum, which began at the Eurostars Madrid Tower Hotel on Wednesday, 2 May 2018.
Organized by the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, the Forum, with over 400 delegates representing over 80 countries in attendance, was opened by the welcome of HE Dr Hessa Al Oteiba, the UAE Ambassador to Spain.
Dr Abdulla Alraisi, Director General of National Archives, UAE, Faisal Rahmani, Chairman, IFAHR, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director of Overseas Promotion, DCT, Abu Dhabi and Edward Hamod, General Manager of National Feed and Flour Production & Marketing Co LLC, also made opening remarks which was followed by a captivating presentation by Dr Abdulla Alraisi on Zayed: A Man Who Built A Nation.
The international gathering got a glimpse of the achievements of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the UAE marked the 100th birth anniversary of the founder of the UAE with 2018 being observed as Year of Zayed.
The opening session on Breeding was moderated by racing commentator Derek Thompson. The panel was: Khalid Al Naboodah (UAE), Ahmed Al Balushi (Oman), Emmanuel Cessac (FRA), Mohammed Karmine (Morocco), Garrett Ford (USA), Val Bunting (FRA), Lynn Bennett (USA), Richard Lancaster (UK) and Dr. Andrew Dalglish.
All panel members were unanimous that the main factors that go into the breeding of a successful race horse were selection of the right mare and the right stallion, pedigree, conformation and good stable staff who understand the young foal and help raise it in the right environment.
On the topic of Embryo Transfer, both Val Bunting and Richard Lancaster were not in favor of this unless it was due to medical conditions and were concerned on genetic consequences. Most of the other panel members felt that the limited number of Arabians racing worldwide would benefit from the multiple production of a single good mare. IFAHR rules limit ET numbers but this is not followed consistently by all countries.
The 1962 Grand National winner and UAE-based Pat Buckley was the head of the second session on Racing & Training with panelists: Mark Powell (USA), Nelly Philippot (Belguim), Xavier Ziani (FRA), Dr. Ezzeldine Sedrati (Morocco), Damien De Watrigant (FRA), Thomasz Chalimoniuk (Pol), Karin van den Bos (Ned), Roberto Cocheteaux (Spain) and Francis Conti (FR).
Sedrati offered that Morocco stages 700 races with year-round racing, and they are short of qualified horses, while Chalimoniuk said Poland staged around 220 races. The agreed that the aid of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival has given a boost to Arabian racing in their countries. Dutch trainer Karin van den Bos said she pursued a holistic approach to training her horses and has achieved success with this method.
Watrigant shared his experience as a trainer of 15 years, agreeing with Van den Bos on starting horse slowly and not rushing them. He is the 6th generation in his family to be involved with horses.
Jockey Ziani said the success of any horse depends on the team behind it and said right from the owner and trainer it was all about team work.
There was a lot of discussion on whether Arabian horses should start racing at 3 or 4 years and finally there was some consensus that the trainer should take this decision based on the condition of his horse.
The third session of the day on Rules & Regulations, Nutrition & Veterinary Services, is where the call for standardization of rules and regulations across countries gathered support. This session was moderated by UK’s Philip Brennan with the panelists being Hecham El Debagh (Morocco), Dr Stefano Daneri (Italy), Mohammed Al Hashemi (Oman), Marcel de Bruyne (Belgium), Jirayr Habibian (Armenia), Neil Abrahams (Canada) and Ian Patterson (Cyprus).
Jirayr Habibian said the regulations are always evolving in sport and hence the legal framework should keep pace with the rapid changes in horse racing. “Legal system and regulations should go hand in hand.”
Referring to any appeal in the first instance during a race being adjudicated by the Stewards, he felt in the name of natural justice this should be referred to an outside body like a Commission or even the Court of Arbitration.
Neil Abrahams said though there is little standardization of many rules, and jockeys Festival Ambassador jockeys, Richard Mullen and Xavier Ziani agreed that part of jockey training is to know the rules for each country. Ziani did urge that HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival and IFAHR to take up their cause and seek standardization of rules and regulations.
Dr. Daneri stated that the current whips in use cause no harm to the welfare of the horse and there were no such report in the recent past to state the contrary while some panelists sought the standardization of the whips as a starting point.
Midway through the opening day’s sessions, Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) conducted the draw for the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race to be run on May 5 in Seville, Spain. Seven of the ten Apprentice jockeys who arrived here will be racing to clinch a spot in the grand final in Abu Dhabi on November 9, 2018.
The Form continues with four more sessions and a workshop after which action shifts to the race course and endurance circuit during the weekend.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carrier, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFHRA, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abu Dhabi Youth Council, General Authority for Sports and sponsored by Ayadi LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Nissan Middleast Al Massood Automobiles, Nirvana Travels and Tourism LLC, Equicare Veterinary Services, Alawal Stud, Cavalos Equine Care & Supplies, SET Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Al Awani General Enterprises, Omeir Travels, Kabale, YAS Channel, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohammed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2018, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.