Health and Welfare of Arabian Racing – a look into the future

While preparing for the Year of the Rooster, 2017, we asked some of the leading Arabian race representatives to give us the outlook of Arabian racing in their country.

2 January 2016, USA ~ Reported in alphabetic order by country:

Abu Dhabi, UAE

HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Festival, the Arabian horse sponsor that covers the largest global footprint to aid Arabian racing in many forms, was organized in 2009 with seven races in Europe. By 2016, there were over 100 races sponsored on 6 Continents.

Support is offered many ways including through prize money, added insurance payments, and transportation bonus. In 2012, the European Triple Crown race series was launched with bonus money of €50,000 for winning high points for all three races in the European Triple Crown. In 2015 in the US, a bonus of $150,000 was the prize for the high point total in entering the three Triple Jewel races. In November 2016, the second running of the €1.2 million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown was won by the US-bred RB Rich in Abu Dhabi.

In addition, the Festival organized the first-ever World Arabian Racing Conference, which has brought the Arabian racing community together in a different country each year, beginning with Abu Dhabi in 2010, and scheduled for Morocco in 2017.

Added support for the sport of Endurance has bolstered the footprint of the Festival, which will continue this support in the future.

Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the Int’l Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairman of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), adds:

HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies race series and the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice race series are not only important as they are world championships but also because they carry the name of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the UAE.

“The focus is on improving the lot of lady jockeys and lady connections in the sport of racing, and the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) is an opportunity for them. Most of the jockeys participating in this series have hardly raced outside their country and for them to travel and compete on racecourses around the globe on Purebred Arabian horses is indeed a new challenge and an equally new experience.

“The case is similar in the category of Apprentice jockeys and the Festival-supported mentorship program is already beginning to bear fruit. The young aspiring jockeys also receive a tremendous boost during the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Conference for Training and Education with professionals in all fields connected to flat racing sharing their expertise and experience during the two-day event.

“We look forward to an even more vibrant year of Arabian Racing in 2017 thanks to the enthusiasm and sponsorship of many.”


According to National Arabian Racehorse Association (NARA) Director Maureen Milburn:

“Australia lost a large sponsor this last year that has pulled out of all Australian horse racing, both Thoroughbred and Arabian. However, to balance that we’ve had Tasmania and South Australia coming up. Tasmanian racing is very popular in Hong Kong and Singapore and the betting is very good.


President of Arabian Horse Racing Club of Belgium, Nelly Philippot, gave credit to the Sponsors for renewed racing spirit.

“We are now doing better thanks to support of the Sponsors, and the quality of the horses has improved. More money and better quality horses have gained the recognition of the Thoroughbred group. They are now easier to work with as we now have bigger money races than they do.”


Nicole Kraft, Directrice/Director of the French Arabian Horse Racing Association (AFAC), credits owner premiums for continued strong Arabian racing in France.

“Thanks to generous sponsors, 84 PA races worth 3 077 000 € took place in France in 2016. Arabian racing remains healthy in France because of owner’s premiums (+ 64 % for 2,3 and 4 yo ; + 43 % for 5 yo+) which are added to the prize money. For the Gr. II PA Qatar Total Arabian Trophy 4 yo Females, with a prize money of 150 000 €, the winner received 75 000 €, the owner 28 800 € and the breeder 11 032 €.
“For 2017, 48 races for 4 yo+ and 36 for 3yo are scheduled. All the AFAC members represented by Chairman Yves Plantin wish you a successful year 2017 and express their gratitude to all the international sponsors for the support of Arabian racing and breeding in France.”

FBA Bloodstock CEO Jean Pierre Deroubaix gives his view on the advances of Arabian racing and the development of a new race track in Iraq. We caught up with M. Deroubaix at the Abu Dhabi November racing Championship.

“I am very lucky to travel all around the world for a long time. It is impressive how many Arabian horses are accepted all over the world. In many countries the Arabian horse is the breed they know the best.

“Many countries now have an opportunity to organize races. Thanks to HH Sheikh Mansoor and Abu Dhabi for sponsoring huge races all around the world; it is working.

“Tonight here in Abu Dhabi we are more than 80 different countries. Most of these people would never come to Abu Dhabi without the racing at the level. What a good promotion for the UAE and Abu Dhabi to attract people here to show them beautiful horses and top quality racing.

“I am from France, and we have had Arabian horses since Napoleon’s time when he rode his Arabians into battle. We have had Arabian race horses and beauty show horses, a tradition bred by the French National Stud.

“Just five years ago in the Racing Post in the UK, all the races at Newbury were printed in the paper except the Arabian race which was run one hour ahead of the opening race and not mentioned. Due to the influence of Qatar, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, they now list the Arabian races and now they are accepted. Many private parties in addition to the sponsors are now looking for Arabian race horses.

“At the start of the upswing of Arabian racing many countries asked me to help them put together racing tracks. I began in Qatar with the training center, the equestrian center, and the mounted police center – all are my babies. Then I helped them with the race track in Oman and then in Pyatisgiorsk, Russia, from A to Zed.

“For 1 ½ years now I‘ve worked in Iraq to build a new racetrack where there are many Arabian horses. The new racecourse is located at Erbil, Kurdistan, and is nearly completed. Many horses are there now as it is a place of peace in between the unrest and they breed many horses there.

“We organized the first international Arabian horses beauty show in Erbil in November, and an International show jumping in October, with horses from Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Europe and the USA. The opening ceremony will be in April 2017, but the Equestrian Club attached to the racetrack is already in use. We will have the first race at the new track in April organized by the Iraqi Arabian Horse Organization,”

Hong Kong

Christie Hoo, consultant to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is advising on the possibility of China’s involvement into Arabian racing.

“At present there is no Arabian racing in China although our horse racing industry is about 18 years old. It is now a Thoroughbred racing business.”


Hannie Maasdijk from the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities reports on IFAHR’s newest member, Spain.

“The Jockey Club Espanol has organized 9 race meetings in 2017 with 5 Meetings in January and 4 meetings in February. The meetings will be held at the historic racetrack of Seville, the Gran Hipodromo de Andalucia.”


According to Sherry Al Ansari, racehorse breeder in Iran:

“We have three racetracks and everything is run under the Equestrian Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIEF).

“Showing has been very popular, but now Arabian racing is growing and becoming quite popular and there are many horses racing. We have three tracks 1,500m dirt tracks. For Tehran each year, we have 70-100 horses racing. In Tehran, the Thoroughbreds prevail in numbers but now in June we will have five weeks of Arabian-only racing.

“We have mostly HARC-type (older breeding) Arabian horses. We had one French stallion a few years ago but they are too heavy for our tracks and were easily injured.”


Istanbul and Malaysian Apprentice Jockey and racing consultant Chris Watson has a positive report about his work with the Istanbul Apprentice Racing School and an update on Arabian racing in Malaysia.

“Istanbul has a well-formed Apprentice jockey program which has at present about 60 students. This program begins in January and the students board at the school beginning in January. The classrooms are above and there are stables below for about 40 horses, 6 of which are Arabians. The jockeys understand and know how to ride both Thoroughbred and Arabian horses. Racing in Istanbul is a very vibrant industry; the prize money is fantastic and the racing is good.”

“In addition through IFAHR, we are looking at the possibility of Arabian racing in Malaysia. On the East coast of Malaysia there is an Arabian horse population where the horses are raised mainly for showing and endurance. The Malaysian Equine council is investigating the opportunities for Arabian racing in that area.

“The Malaysian Racing Association runs mainly on four race tracks which includes Singapore, and they are at present all-Thoroughbred tracks. The current groups are very supportive and are quite involved with the apprentice racing program.”


President Directeur General Professeur Noureddine ben Chehida from the Societé des Courses Hippiques de Tunisia talks of the plentiful Arabian races in that country.

“We have about 250 Arabian horses in Tunisia in two groups. We have the old pure Tunisian horse and also an (open) Arabian horse group. We have about 200 races a year of which 75% are Arabian and 25% for Arabian Tunisian.

“In 2016 our Arabian race entries were stable. In 2017 it is looking even better with more horses entering racing.”

United Kingdom

Genny Haynes, Director of the Arabian Horse Organization (ARO), feels there is overall progress in prize money and race dates in the UK.

“With regard to the drop in the number of Arabians this year (2016), it is for the first time accurate for our domestic numbers, as we have not had the Omani or Qatari horses over for our season and they usually get included in the stats, so I am confident we are moving in the right way.

“I was extremely pleased with the 3-year-old registrations this year as that had increased and our 3-year-old race on DIAR Day at Newbury had 15 runners, the most we have ever had in that race, so it looks as if the breeding of Arabians is again on the increase.

“It has been overall a competitive season at all levels of the sport, from Group level to ‘grass roots’. The increase in prize money was due to the Zayed Cup being increased by a further £10,000 and the President of the UAE Cup (UK Arabian Derby) being increased from £50,000 to £80,000.

“Now all we have to do is do it all over again! ARO is planning to stage just as many races in 2017 as we did in 2016, but as always it is down to sponsorship as we are self funding.”

Welcome to the Big Time:
UK trainer Bill Smith, top National hunt jockey for the Queen Mother’s stable from 1974 until 1984, thinks top Arabian racing has arrived. After attending the 2016 Sheikh Zayed Cup in Abu Dhabi, the World’s Richest Arabian horse race, Smith said:

“This race was the most professional Arabian horse race I have ever seen. They were right together from the gate and fought from the start. You were never sure who was to be the winner.”

United States

Kathy Smoke, Chair of the Arabian Jockey Club, sees an improvement in the future and is clear on the positive influence of US breeding the racing world.

“In the past few years, Arabian racing experienced a decline due to our economy. We are now seeing new horses, new people coming into the business through all of the efforts of those supporting Arabian racing and thanks to the good support of the International sponsors. Shadwell DIAR days, the Sheikh Mansoor Festival, and The President of the UAE Cup have contributed to the renewal. Once the pipeline is full of race-age horses, which may take 2-3 years, I think we’’ll see a stronger racing model in the US.

“Remember that US-bred horses have now won both years (2015, 2016) of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s €1.2 million Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Crown Jewel-IPIC (Group 1) – World’s Richest race for Purebred Arabian horses.”

The Arabian Racing Cup (ARC) was introduced in 1983 on an international basis as a breeders’ incentive program. The yearly Arabian Cup Darley Awards honor top Arabian breeders, owners and trainers, and the posh Hollywood event is known as the Oscars of Arabian racing.

ARC Chief Steward, Michelle Morgan said:

“I see a new interest and excitement in Arabian Racing in the US. I talk to people everyday that want more information on our sport.

“The goal and dream of the Arabian race horse breeder is to win one of the big stakes races. As a breeder, I see an increase in breedings and much more interest from those wanting to breed. However, even though our breedings are going up, we did see some low numbers in race entries this past year, as many people had stopped breeding a few years back. The increase in breedings as of 2016 and onward won’t produce an effect in the racing numbers for another two or three years.

“The positive future has much to do with the sponsorship by Shadwell’s DIAR races, the Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Festival, and The President of the UAE Cup. Our generous sponsor support is bringing prestige and attention to the Arabian race horse and they are also working alongside the US Arabian Jockey Club to promote Arabian racing.

“In addition, for the breeder of the old lines, they now have a place to race and added incentives from the Heritage Arabian Racing Club (HARC).

“The Arabian Racing Cup has brought back its Breeders Incentive program, handing out $500 checks each for 1st, 2nd and 3rd on supported races. A list of eligible stallions is on the Arabian Racing Cup website.

“We have two new ARC stewards, Jon Henningsgard and Garrett Ford, who both came on board ready to go with new ideas and enthusiasm. ARC feels very fortunate to have two people who are very involved in breeding and racing Arabian horses.

“Not to forget our important upcoming stallion breeding raffle which helps to support the Breeder Incentive money. We are featuring three stallions in the raffle: So Big Is Better, Grilla and Sammy V. The drawing will be on January 31.”

Editors’ Note: If you would like to add information about Arabian racing in your country that is not included here, please contact us.