UAE to hold talks with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for coordinated regional horse racing

Mystic Guide Dubai world cup winner
Mystic Guide, ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Michael Stidham, wins the $12 Million Dubai World Cup at Meydan racecourse. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE is to open talks with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain aimed at the development of coordinated regional racing.

The racing clubs in the GCC countries are to hold discussions in the coming months covering topics such as coordination in equine quarantine and ease of travel as well as race scheduling and the sharing of knowledge and information among owners and breeders in the three countries.

Racing leaders in the three Gulf states believe there is room for a more coordinated approach to the sport in the region which will benefit all parties and eventually expand to include other countries in the wider GCC.

All three nations are high-profile international racing hosts. The Bahrain International Trophy is held in November, The Saudi Cup is at the end of February and the well-established Dubai World Cup Carnival season and Dubai World Cup race day spans from January to March.

The initial talks will take place between the Dubai Racing Club, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain’s Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club.

Sheikh Rashid bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Racing Club, expressed his optimism at the joint cooperation. “By working together, we can open up new horizons to horse racing in the region, utilising widespread regional experiences in organising 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 road map 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,” he said.

Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said: “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.

“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 Bahrain’s Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club High Committee, said: “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.

“We are truly excited by the prospect of an integrated regional racing schedule that draws upon established strengths to elevate standards and competition. Whilst discussions may be at an early stage, the scale of opportunity gives reason to be optimistic.”