Edito: the implications of introducing the Kahayla Classic and other top races


Edito: the implications of introducing the Kahayla Classic and other top races

Meydan stages the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Saturday, a race that is now a quarter of a century old, and very much the forerunner to what is the core of the current international PA race programme. The ‘Kahayla Classic’ was in fact the first PA race whose purse (dollars) stretched to seven figures. It was only very gradually that other Gulf States followed suit by introducing major PA races in the winter-spring period with comparable – and sometimes even more valuable – purses, as is now the case in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. This proliferation of these very lucrative prizes gave rise to well-structured/endowed local race programmes, catering for all categories of horse, within the different racing nations in this region. Owners in the Gulf States, in addition to exhibiting the desire of keeping their horses locally, are further incentivised to race their charges on the home stage given the generous "daily" prize money levels on offer.

This begs the question: how should the French PA, or even the European PA Racing Calendar for that matter, adapt to this seemingly inexorable trend?

From my perspective, France must continue to plough its own furrow: and one centred around the selection process and young horses. Historically, in our country, horses race as 3-year-olds. It was at this age that Manganate, Kesberoy, Dormane and others, were able to prove on the track that they had the required quality. What France does supremely well, and perhaps sometimes better than others, is to facilitate the breeding of PA horses in the best possible conditions. This is the precursor to providing the breed with an exceptionally selective and formative racing programme for 3/4-year-olds. Subsequently, the outstanding performers remain with their French trainers with a view to contesting the world’s top PA prizes. Some of these star performers are exported abroad, whereas others continue their racing careers in France. Lastly, the remainder are eventually retired to stud, or are retrained

(for other equine purposes). This trend, already in evidence, is likely to accentuate. We can discern that the PA market is recovering strongly and, as things stand in France, new breeders, with the necessary means, have recently set up shop. Some are French, whereas others hail from the Arab world. Some of them are here to race, others to sell. If we want to satisfy these two groups, with a view to maintaining the privileged position of the French PA sector, it’s necessary to continue the pathway undertaken by Afac. This entails catering for a Racing Calendar for 3/4-year-olds that is even more lucrative. This goes hand-in-hand with the increase in the number of young PA horses currently in training in France as per the initial months of 2023. More races for PA 3/4-year-olds translates to increased opportunities for owners and breeders to have a winner. After which it’s up to each individual to map out either the local or international destiny of the PA horse in question...