‘THE jewel in the crown’ of Arabian racing will offer more than the glitter of jewellery in the biggest free day in the racing calendar at Newbury Racecourse on Sunday.
For the 14th year, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, has backed the Dubai International Arabian Raceday, which offers free racing, free gifts and prizes to racegoers on a free day out to encourage Anglo-Arabian relations and the continuing upsurge in interest in Arabian racing in Europe.
A record 26 international runners - more than double the previous two years’ combined - will be competing in an eight card for record prize money, topped by the £55,000 Shadwell Dubai International Stakes.
The favourite for that is likely to be Sheikh Hamdan’s own French-bred Muraaqib, on of 18 runners His Highness has on a day when amateur riders and trainers mix with major jockeys.
“We have a record number of horses from overseas,” said Amanda Smith, who runs the Newbury-based Arabian Racing Organisation. And His Excellency Mirza Al Sayegh, Chairman of the raceday committee, underlined the town’s importance to the growth of Arabian horse racing: “Newbury is the jewel in the crown of Arabian racing in the world,” he said, as he confirmed that plans were already in hand for a return trip to Newbury on Sunday, July 30 next year.
RACING broadcaster Derek Thompson will host this year’s big day at Newbury on Sunday, which will be packed with competitions, prizes and giveaways, topped by the presentation of a Citroen C1 Touch VTi car to one lucky racegoer at the end of the day’s racing.
Every spectator will receive a free goodie bag, and draw prizes on the day will include:-
VIP trip to Dubai with Business Class fights
Best dressed lady competition with the first prize a trip to Dubai and other prizes of jewellery
iPads for the best children’s hat competition winners for boys and girls
iPad for the best selfie competition
Prize draw to win designer watches courtesy of Jebel Ali Racecourse
THE annual Arabian Rainbow competition for local schools will reach its climax with presentation of the winning entries.
Local schools have been busy in recent weeks designing and painting their own Arabian racehorse medals with all receive cash a wards and the best three prizes of up to £2,500.
Since its introduction in 2009, local schools have received £80,000 towards the cost of special projects and prize money has this year been boosted for the 14 competing schools.
They will also be hosted in a new Activity Hub, in which children of all ages can take top tips from Elizabeth Armstrong, a member of the Society of Equestrian Artists.
Also on show in celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday will be a rare sighting of two Arabian stallions presented to Her Majesty in 2013 by His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who personally selected the horses from his private family collection at the Royal Stud of Bahrain, one of the few establishments in the world to have preserved the original ‘desert war horse’.
Mlolshaan Mahrous and Tuwaisaan Tha’atha’a’ta took part in The Queen’s 90th birthday pageant in May and will be paraded before racing by Jenny Lees, who cares for them at her Pearl Island Arabians stud in Hertfordshire.
Live falcons will also be on display in the Activity Hub.
HE Mirza Al Sayegh said, “I have always been interested in the schools competition, and I very much hope that we can get even more schools involved in the future.
“His Highness Sheikh Hamdan is a passionate supporter of Arabian racing and is delighted to see this day continue to grow and inspire similar events across Europe under the banner of the Dubai International Arabian Races.
“We look forward to welcoming a big crowd on Sunday and hope that Arabian racing followers, local families and pupils from the many schools who have taken part in activities in the lead-up to this event will have an exciting and truly memorable day.”
The gates open at noon and the first race is at 2pm.