Morocco a good place to be for International Arabian Racing

May 19, 2013, Rabat ~SORECSocieté Royale d’Encouragement du Cheval 


Omar Skalli with International guests at Haras de Bouznika

Since it’s creation in 2003, Morocco’s Societé Royale d’Encouragement du Cheval (SOREC), has been a major positive influence in the health, welfare and promotion of equines and equine events in Morocco.

Placed under the umbrella of Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture, SOREC’s original role was expanded in 2007 to include the development and promotion of all of Morocco’s burgeoning racing industry and the modernization and promotion of their racecourses. By 2011, SOREC had also been given the responsibility of the National Stud to work with the breeders to establish a bank of top equines to maintain the highest level of the breeds. SOREC also takes its mission seriously to safeguard the ancient North African Barbary horse (Barb), that traces its existence in the country since the 14the Century.

Each year, Morocco has over 1,800 races, an average of 10 races at each meeting. A quarter of these races are reserved for Purebred Arabians, another quarter reserved for Thoroughbred, and the rest are mainly Anglo-Arabian and Arabe-Barb. There are over 3,000 horses registered in training for racing, and most of the races are represented by horses bred and trained in Morocco.

Morocco’s Racecourses

Of the six race courses in Morocco, the oldest is Casa-Anfa,  built in 1912. The other five are: Rabat, El Jadida, Settat, Meknes, and Khemisset. SOREC is hands and heels into modernization of the courses and is installing new technical infrastructure, a modern gate system, results reporting, and an updated interactive website. SOREC works with each racecourse and the specific Breed societies of Pur Sang Anglais (Thoroughbred), Pur Sang Arab (Arabian), Anglo-Arabian, the Barb and Arabe-Barbe to promote racing  and set conditions for the individual courses.

Paddock at Casa-Anfa

Paddock at Casa-Anfa

According to SOREC Director General, Omar Skalli, SOREC is confident in their forward direction to develop Moroccan horse racing into an International venue. To this end, they have a schedule of International racing and have established a relationship with the French Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) for more International exposure.

“Our mission now is to develop the horse industry and at the forefront is to develop the racing industry, said Skalli. “As the racing authority, we work closely with all professionals and are working hard to develop  the races in Morocco.”

Dr. Hicham Dibbagh, Mr. Omar Skalli, Mr. Ismael Nassif

Dr. Dibbagh, Omar Skalli, Mr. Ismael Nassif

Hicham Debbagh, Director of Racing, agreed.  “We have made good progress with the races and there is a good quality of Arabians racing in Morocco.”

The National Stud

The National Stud was originally established in 1912 and it’s main mission was to put stallions at the disposal of breeders, the major outlet at that time being the cavalry. Today under the banner of SOREC, breeders are able to use many top horses, chosen as the best of their breeds.

The National Studs are the stud book authority in Morocco charged with the promotion of purebred horse breeding. The offices are in Rabat and  there are four stations: The National Stud of Bouznika, The National Stud of El Jadida, the National Stud of Marrakech and the National Stud of Oujda. Every National Stud has its stallions, and has also regional Stallion stations nearby.  The stallion services are mainly available free of charge except a few in an elite category where the breeders and farmers are charged a nominal 50 to 100 € fee, mainly to sensitize farmers to the importance and reasoning of reproduction.

Today the National Stud at Bouznika – National Haras de Bouznika – boasts a state- of – art National Artificial Insemination Centre, opened in 2002. Top Thoroughbred stallions, Barbs and Arabians are the main breeds that are under the National Stud’s protection, and many Arabians are represented by Artificial Insemination, done onsite.

Morocco, once a protectorate of France, gained its independence in 1956. At 174,000 square miles, it is larger than California. The equestrian sector is a flourishing corner of employment in Morocco with over 11,500 jobs attributed to breeding, raising and training of horses.

2013 International Race Events 

Les Grands Rendez-vous 2013  

3 May – Grand Prix de Sa Majesté le Roi Mohammed VI, International Day of the Purebred Arabian – Casa-Anfa

22 May – Journée PMU – Casa-Anfa

02 June –  Grand Prix de Feu Sa Majesté Le Roi Mohamed V – Rabat

23 June – Grand Prix De La SOREC – Rabat

6 July – Grand Prix de la Fete Du Trone Journée d’El Jadida- El Jadida

27 October – Grand Prix de Feu Sa Majesté Le Roi Hassan II- Rabat

23 November – Grand Prix de sa Majesté le Roi Mohammed VI Journée Internationale Pur-Sang Anglais – Casa- Anfa

25 December – Journée Du Grand Prix De Settat- Settat


Visit to National Haras de Bouznika

Our visit to the National Stud at Bouznika included a treat, a performance called Fantasia, a traditional horsemanship exhibition performed mainly in the Northern part of the continent of Africa. It was originally called lab el baroud  or  gunpowder play. The performance consists of a group of traditionally dressed riders, mounted on Barb/Berber horses, who charge along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, and then at the end of the charge (about two hundred meters) fire into the sky using old muskets or muzzle-loading rifles charged with black powder, leaving billowing clouds of blinding dust behind them.

Fantasia Display

Fantasia Display





Photo gallery, National Haras de Bouznika – Fantasia:

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