LONDON: Horse racing authorities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are set for talks in the coming months about enhanced coordination to develop the sport in the region.
They will discuss equine quarantine procedures and ease of travel, as well as race scheduling and the sharing of knowledge and information among owners and breeders in the three countries.
Initial talks will involve the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s Rashid Equestrian and Horse Racing Club, and Dubai Racing Club.
Racing authorities in the three countries believe there is scope for a more coordinated approach to the sport in the region, which they say would be mutually beneficial and eventually expand to include other countries in the wider Gulf Cooperation Council area.
Each of the countries hosts a major event on the global calendar: the Bahrain International Trophy in November, the Saudi Cup at the end of February and the well-established Dubai World Cup Carnival season, which runs from January to March.
Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey spoke to Arab News earlier this year to recall his Dubai World Cup glory ahead of the race’s 25th anniversary. Read the full interview here.
“With an increasingly attractive racing offering already taking place across the region, we decided as a group that it was time to focus on ways to open up our racing to each other while simultaneously making it more attractive for internationals to come here, facilitating the progression of racing standards across the entire region,” said Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia.
“We are in the preliminary stages of these talks, which will initially take place between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, but we are laying the foundations for a Gulf-wide cooperation that will benefit all of us and, we hope, the racing world at large, offering summer and winter racing in the Middle East.”
Sheikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, chairman of the Rashid Equestrian and Horse Racing Club’s High Committee, said he hopes to see a closer relationship between horse racing authorities in the three countries, for the good of the sport.
“Horse racing holds a special place in the hearts of sports enthusiast in the region and their shared passion is a catalyst for engagement at all levels to develop a mutually beneficial program both within the Gulf and outside the region,” he said.
“We are truly excited by the prospect of an integrated regional racing schedule that draws upon established strengths to elevate standards and competition. While discussions may be at an early stage, the scale of opportunity gives reason to be optimistic.”
Sheikh Rashid bin Dalmook Al-Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Racing Club, also expressed optimism about the prospects and benefits of enhanced cooperation.
“By working together, we can open up new horizons to horse racing in the region, utilizing widespread regional experiences in organizing major international events,” he said.
“This will contribute to delivering the aspirations and desires of all involved parties within the racing industry, including owners, jockeys and trainers, creating a new roadmap to overcoming obstacles and facilitating progression.
“This is a welcome step that will be promoted globally through the international races hosted by the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and will continue to fuel the rapid growth we have seen in the industry at regional level.”