The Dubai International Arabian Races and its Anglo-French history


The Dubai International Arabian Races and its Anglo-French history

As La Teste prepares to host three DIAR prep races on July 2nd, we have used this opportunity to examine the impact which French PA horses have had on the whole concept.

The unique nature of the DIAR project. The Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR) have become a standing dish for Purebred Arabian horses (PA) in the European calendar.  The only meeting of its kind, it caters for all levels of competition. At elite class, it stages Gr1 PA races for older horses and a Gr3 PA event for younger horses – on a card which, at the other end of the scale, has also found room for an international conditions race and a range of handicaps. Initially staged at Kempton Park racecourse, on the outskirts of London from 1984 to 1996, it transferred to Newbury, its current home, in 1997. The feature race, the Dubai International Stakes, revels in its Gr1 PA status and is run over 2,000m. It opened its doors to international competition in 1995 and was previously run over 2,400m from 1989 to 1993. However, since 2016, following the introduction of the DIAR prep race series on the European circuit, the meeting has gained added international kudos. This was all part of the original vision of the DIAR patron, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. Genny Haynes, the Commercial and Finance Director of the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) said: DIAR always has, and will always be, a success story linked to Sheikh Hamdan, the DIAR Committee, Shadwell Arabians and ARO, plus all those involved with since its inception. Since the project first saw the light of day at Kempton, the aim has always been to encourage the best Purebred Arabians (PA) to compete at the top level, and this vision remains unchanged to this day. It has been a story of continual improvement over a 30 year period, which has been translated in terms of the quality of Purebred Arabians, the competitive nature of the participants and the high standard of delivery of the event.  This raceday is recognised worldwide as the ‘pinnacle’ of PA racing and, speaking on behalf of the ARO Board of Directors, it is one we are extremely proud to be associated with.”

French success. The fact that the premier European Purebred Arabian raceday has become a French success story is hardly surprising given this country’s long established commitment to the sport, and an ability to breed top class international PA horses. The Dubai International Stakes, the feature race, has yielded 25 French-bred winners – 14 of which were trained in France. This includes the three dual winners: Bengali d’Albret (Chéri Bibi), Al Sakbe (Kesberoy) and No Risk Al Maury (Kesberoy). All were acquired by the Shadwell Stud’s Richard Lancaster on behalf on Sheikh Hamdan, although Al Sakbe’s first win in 1999 was gained in the colours of Faiz Al Elweet.

The other Gr1 PA races have also been dominated by French trainers. They have claimed 13 of the 19 editions of the Hatta International Stakes (2,000m) for fillies and mares. Furthermore, the French-bred pair, Djainka des Forges (Kerbella) and Sylvine Al Maury (Munjiz), were both dual winners of this race. Regarding the Za’abeel International Stakes (1,200m), 13 of the 17 winners were trained in France. They include the hat-trick scorers Dahess (Amer) and Al Mouhannad (Nizam). Al Chammy, the latter’s full brother, also hit the jackpot in 2018.

The 1,400m race for three-year-olds currently enjoys Gr3 PA status and 13 of its 18 winners were bred in France. One of the most significant renewals was in 2012 when the meeting was moved to the end of September. Manark (Mahabb), trained by Damien de Watrigant, emerged victorious after making all before just holding on by a neck. His victims included a stellar cast of future Gr PA winners and namely: Samima (Dahess), Al Anga (Amer), Dejbelia Al Mels (Dahess), Al Atique (Amer) and Djainka des Forges. After being sidelined through injury, and a period spent in Britain with Gill Duffield, Manark went on to capture the Dubai Kahayla Classic (Gr1PA) for Erwan Charpy in 2014.

The influence of the Haras de Mandore. Two of the notable early winners of the Dubai International were the Jean-Marc de Watrigant runners Cherifa (Chéri Bibi) and Dormane (Manganate), in 1985 and 1988 respectively. The influence of this pair on the PA breed still resonates today, and particularly in the DIAR roll of honour. Cherifa has since produced her own Dubai International winner following the success of Djebbel (Djelfor) in 1998. This mare’s first foal, Djourifa (Djouras Tu), also generated a winner of this race in the form of the Damien de Watrigant-trained Djourdan following the union with Dormane. The latter also sired another Dubai International winner, namely Darike in 1995, plus the 2009 Za’abeel International Stakes winner Dariya. Dormane is also the broodmare sire of numerous DIAR winners such as Sylvine Al Maury. However, Cherifa’s influence doesn’t merely extend to the Dubai International as her daughter, Djelmila (Manganate), won the Hatta International before producing the Dubai International winner Majd Al Arab (Amer) at stud. Another daughter, Ziva (Dormane), captured the Hatta International, and her first two foals, Elraawy and Azizi, (both by Monsieur Al Maury (Djelfor), were successful in the DIAR Premier Handicap over 2,500m. Djezika (Dormane) was narrowly foiled by fellow French-bred Aikido Vege (Elios de Carrère) in the Dubai International, but went on to produce Taymour (Mahabb). The latter landed the DIAR prep, the Shadwell Coupe du Sud-Ouest des Pur-sang Arabes (Gr3PA), at La Teste in 2018. He is also entered in this year’s Dubai International.

All these horses trace back to Magicienne (Nedjanor). Cherifa, in fact, shares the same great grandam, Magnésie (Denouste), as Dormane’s sister Margau (Manganate). The latter, a full sister of this stallion,

has produced Massamarie (Tidjani), the dam of Mu’azzaz (Amer). Another of her sisters, Madjela, generated Jaafer ASF (Amer). Madjela, Jaafer ASF and Mu’azzaz won the Dubai International in the colours of the Al Shahania Stud.

Prep series bonuses. The addition of the prep race series, complete with bonuses which go to the winners /placed horses on DIAR finals’ day, has added to the momentum. Al Chammy and Joudh (Mahabb) both banked additional prize money via this route in 2018. Al Chammy had won at Newbury prior to the big day, whereas Joudh had been second at La Teste. Shadwell Stud director Richard Lancaster feels that the addition of the series has enhanced the meeting’s appeal in Europe. He is looking forward to the upcoming races at La Teste which he describes as “always very competitive”. They include the Shadwell Critérium des Pouliches (Gr2 PA, 1,900m) which boasts the highest ratings on the French card.

Thierry Delègue, racing manager for owner-breeders YAS Horse Management, whose Belqees (Mahabb),  and Taymour (Mahabb) won Group PA races at La Teste last year, has welcomed the series. Speaking after Bayan (Munjiz) and Kanaan (Sarrab) had won two DIAR prep races at Rome in April, he said: "The DIAR Series is perfect. We came to Italy with two horses and will now head to La Teste, where we plan to have two or three runners before taking the road to Newbury."

The 2019 entries. The first entry stage of the Group races closed on June 18th.  Of the 84 entries, 19

are ‘black type’ winners, and there has been a slight rise in the number of international entries compared to 2018. They include Gazwan (Amer), the joint highest ranked horse in the 2018 PA International Classifications. He won the Dubai International as a four-year-old in 2015 and was a close second in 2017. If successful this year, he would become the first horse since Al Sakbe to reclaim his title. Also entered is stablemate Ebraz (Amer): a full-brother to 2012 winner Mu’azzaz. The first foal of their sister Theeba has been christened Methgal (TM Fred Texas) and the latter is entered in the PA juvenile race.

The top-rated filly of 2018, Al Shamoos (No Risk Al Maury), is entered in the Hatta International, where she could face the Gr2 PA winners Belqees, Najah (Munjiz), Bayan and Vivabaina (Kerbella). The latter is a half-sister to the 2018 Dubai International winner Nafees (Azadi). Other Dubai International entries include the French Derby first and third, Hayyan (Munjiz) and Kanaan, plus the 2018 French and UK Derby winning Rodess du Loup (Dahess).

The entry stage for the international conditions races has still to close. A breakdown reveals that 24 of the 79 entries are currently trained in France, with 45 of these being French-breds. So the 2019 edition of the DIAR 2019 card promises to be another good year for the French Purebred Arabian. Genny Haynes added: “It is clear from the increase in international entries that the appetite for top quality international PA racing remains strong across Europe.”