One of the highlights of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is the annual World Arabian Horse Racing Forum which was staged this year in Bucharest, Romania, from 2-6 July 2019.
There were three days of panel-based discussions held on topics such as Jockey Performances & Accidents Insurances; Media, PR & Social Media; Breeding, Rules& Regulations & Veterinary Services; and Racing & Training. On 6 July, the guests moved to the Hippodrome Ploiesti for the days racing, three of which were supported by the Festival.
Susan Meyer, President of the US Arabian Jockey Club was one of the invited guests and had this to say.
“It was great to network with friends from around the world. Bucharest is a lovely city and we all felt safe walking in the evenings to dinner and back. It was a great exchange rate 4 to 1 (for US) and prices at restaurants and hotels are extremely reasonable. The city is very tourist oriented with lots of history and tours to take to enjoy.”
Regarding the panels: “There was a great deal of emphasis on the importance of supporting the breeders. Interestingly Morocco splits their purses 50/50 with the owner and breeder. An international race day was discussed where teams from various countries would compete versus individual owners to try and raise public interest in racing. The thought was the public would be able to cheer for their country as in other sports.
“The races were very well attended by the public with full stands.The primary race card was all Standardbred races. At the races they had three liberty horses that performed on the track and we enjoyed seeing their Airs Above the Ground, and various routines.”
Arabian Racing Cup Chief Steward Jon Henningsgard had a few important take-outs form the Forum.
“I believe everyone is in agreement that we need to breed more horses. Breeding more will help to improve the professionalism of our industry which will lead to being more widely accepted at the Thoroughbred tracks and by the betting public.”
Henningsgard also relayed his impression that in the Gulf States the Arabian horse is as much a passion as it is a culture. In other parts of the Arabian racing world it is also critical to have a sustainable and economically viable business model as it is not sustained by the culture of working with Arabian horses.
The issue did arise of where in future it will be best to put the Festival monies. The consensus was to focus on the places where there is already a racing industry and horses. This way we can more efficiently promote the Arabian race horse and make a real difference. Henningsgard said he put forth that he thought the Festival has been spreading itself too thin.
It was announced that the 2020 Forum will be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the site of the first Conference in 2010.
The Conferences, now Forums, began in Abu Dhabi in 2010, and since have been held in The Hague in The Netherlands in 2011, Berlin in Germany in 2012, Toulouse in France in 2013, London in the United Kingdom in 2014, Warsaw in Poland in 2015, Rome in Italy in 2016, Marrakech in Morocco in 2017, Madrid in Spain in 2018 and the just-concluded 2019 Forum in Bucharest, Romania.