January 17, 2012, Press Release, Muscat ~ UAE lady jockey Shathra Al Hajjaj partners Wathiq to lodge her claim as the first leg of the 2013 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship (IFAHR) gets underway at Al Fulaij Racecourse in Muscat on Thursday evening.
Twelve armature lady jockeys representing UAE, Oman, Qatar, Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere make the line up for the inaugural race of the new season which starts from Oman and tour ten other cities around the world before ending up on the big night at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club during the month of November.
The event is held under the directives of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, as part of the HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival which is organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and co-ordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare and Fegentri with Emirates airline as the official carrier and sponsored by Invest AD, Al Rashid Investment, Areej Al Ameerat, Mauzan, Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012, Dr. Nader SaabSwitzerland, Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Speaking to newsmen during a press briefing at the Grand Hayatt Hotel Muscat, Asma Al Rahma, representing Emirates Airline welcomed the officials and participants and reiterated the commitment of the world leading company to continue its support to the sport of the kings. Khalid Abdulla, director of sports affairs at the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, conveyed the greetings of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Chairman of the authority Abdul Rahman Al Owais and his best wishes to the participants. On his part, Saif Al Rawahy from the Royal Cavalry welcomed the guests and organizers and wished the riders a very good luck.
UAE ambassador to Oman Abdul Redha Khouri said they are honoured to host the opening leg of the competition in Muscat.
“I would like to thank our brothers in the Sultanate for the generous hospitality and warm welcome. The great support for sports in the UAE comes under the directives of the wise leadership of His Highness the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his brother His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Lt. General HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs,” he said.
“I would like also to thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, God preserves him, for his great support for the equine sport and the Purebred Arabian horse breeding and racing,” he added.
Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and Head of IFAHR ladies Racing, said: “It’s a historical moment for Oman to host the opening leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship IFAHR which sees 12 riders competing over a mile aboard the Omani Purebred Arabian horses in the chase for the richest prize-money of Euros 20.000. The fifth edition of the championship will witness 12 rounds in addition to the opening leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship IFAHR and Sheikh Zayed Cup. Saudi lady jockeys will also join the championship right from the upcoming round.
“The festival is hosting 68 races around the globe. It has started in 2009 with four races which were increased to 17 in 2010 and 51 in 2011 and 61 in 2012. Abu Dhabi was elected the capital of the world’s women horse races by the world Arabian Horse Racing Authority IFAHR.
“A special heritage tent will be set within the racecourse where six ladies will be showcasing a number of popular dishes from the UAE.”
Meanwhile, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of foreign promotion department at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority highlighted the outstanding success of the festival at the Arabian and international arenas which eventually put the Arabian horse races in the heart of the international racing calendar.