Role of handicappers and embryo transfer come under the scanner at WAHRC
9 May 2015, Warsaw, Poland ~ The three sessions of deliberations on the opening day of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s World Arabian Horse Conference at the Ufficio Primo in Warsaw on Thursday, 27 May 2015, saw majority of the 400-plus delegates agree to a few key issues concerning Purebred Arabian racing.
In the first session on Breeding, a poll showed that a majority of the delegates were in favor of embryo transfer with a limit of foals from one mare in a year, while in the second session on Racing and Training the majority voted for the need to have more than one Handicapper for Purebred Arabian racing in the respective countries.
In the final session of the day on Weight Loss Control for jockeys, it was unanimously lamented that education and regulation for safe diet and weight loss methods were an ongoing learning process as jockeys make weight on a daily basis.
The morning session with noted race commentator Derek Thompson moderating gave input from noted breeding experts Michelle Morgan (USA), France’s Catherine Labarthe (Djanka Des Forges), Poland’s Dr. Mark Trela, Manuela Daverio (Germany) and UAE top veterinarian Dr. Andrew Dalglish, along with UAE breeder-owners Khalid Al Naboodah and Khalid Al Rahoomi.
Speaking of the Festival breeder incentive program: “HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs has introduced a new incentive which remunerates the winning breeder of all Wathba Stud Farm Cup races in UAE. That is an encouraging factor,” said Khalid Al Rahmoomi.
Khalid Al Naboodah, noted that good breeding stock is imperative and the breeding of a good horse (whether PA or TB) remains to be a matter of good luck.
Michelle Morgan said that she had lowered breeding fees this past season which had encouraged many new breedings which will greatly enlarge the pool of US-bred racing horses. She noted that the use of frozen semen allowed a wider range of breeding opportunities.
Dr Andrew Dalglish lauded the availability in Arabian breeding of using stallions worldwide. “Using frozen semen is easier and often safer than live-breeding (as done with the Thoroughbred world) and gives us the opportunity to increase the number of horses we produce,” he said.
Once again it was the topic of embryo transfer in Arabian horse breeding that drew varied responses but the poll at the end favoured embryo transfer with a limit of foals from one mare in a year.
The Racing and Training session was moderated by Pat Buckley (Ireland) and heard from Yasir Mabrook (Sudan/UAE), Faysal Rahmani (UAE), Lyn Ashby (US), Erwan Charpy (FR), Gillian Duffield (UK), Michel Romanawski (Poland), Ibrahim Al Hadrami (Oman) and Eric Lemartinel (FR) as panel members.
The conditions for races in countries like the UAE with many Arabian horses was highlighted, while the role of the handicapper and the need for one or more handicappers was debated.
The speakers also were in accord to not race two-year-old Arabians as all agree that they are not yet mature. (Thoroughbred horses race at aged two with many issues). It was the consensus that Arabians are still babies at four.
Poland’s Michel Romanawski noted that in Poland they often select breeding with broader views in mind and use racing as an entry for other career disciplines. “We want to put out that racing a horse helps to prepare for another career such as showing,” he said.
Lynn Ashby said the US has re-instituted breeding incentives and is looking for the younger generation to become involved in the breeding, raising, and training of Arabian horses.
WEIGHT LOSS CONTROL
Aziz Al Sheikh, Susan Leahey, Sarah Oliver, Fegentri champion Jessica Marcialis and the UAE ace jockey Ahmed Ajtebi shared their experiences in regards to weight loss issues with Gary Capwell as moderator.
Dr George Wilson, who is part of the Festival-funded research by the John Moore University in Liverpool, spoke about the negative effects of improper diet and popular extreme weight loss measures such as the sweat box.
Slamming the practice of jockeys resorting to shed weight through dehydration just before the race, Dr Wilson said this would never be allowed in any other sport and is very harmful causing long term damage. “The racing authorities must put in place measures that regulate or halt such practices. A jockey loses three to four pounds at the racecourse by using the sweat box, hot box or a track run in a sweat suit. This not only puts pressure on the kidney and the renal functions but the jockey also loses a lot of micro-nutrients due to dehydration. Immediately after this he is on a horse primed to perform at the highest level. And we don’t need Einstein to tell us that this is not conducive to ultimate performance”, he said.
Dr Wilson also revealed that the fat content of jockeys (13% in males and nearly 20% in females) is much higher than in most other athletes.
Dr. Jamal Hoot, who is working with jockeys in Oman and the UAE said jockey diets can be achieved with a healthy diet and still maintain optimum jockey weight.
Chris Watson, the Australian who is heading the jockeys’ apprentice program in Turkey said, ‘They follow the good control program while the jockeys are in the academy but once they are on their own they start facing weight control problems.’’
Capwell ended the session by saying it was also a culture problem and the best way is to educate and regulate.
Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairman of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) helped direct the lively discussions.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival announced that there will be a chaperone/coach for the Festival lady jockeys. Mr Kai Schirmann, the Director of the Apprentice Jockey School in Germany, will be in charge of the ladies care when traveling for race events.
After the end of the three session, the Festival had a red carpet grand welcoming dinner at Endorfina in the old town of Warsaw.
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 in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2015, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Yas Channel, Omeir Travels and Racing Post.