vendredi 23 février 2024
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Qatar unveils its racing strategy

At the end of October, as is the case every year, France organises its biggest racing weekend in conjunction with the support provided by Qatar. Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, the Chairman of QREC (Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club), outlined his country’s vision for racing.

« Horseracing is very important to the people of Qatar. It is as much a part of our culture as any other sport. Furthemore, the people of the Arab world have always had a very strong bond with horses. Horses play a multi-facted role. Historically, racing was a marker of festive occasions: such as weddings, and Eid… For us, it’s obviously very important to foster the aspirations of Qatari owners and breeders. As for the sport’s future, we need to attract more young people. QREC is working to that end. Owners, whatever the level of their horses, have a chance to shine in the Qatari Racing Calendar, as the whole spectrum of races is catered for. QREC strives to ensure the healthiest and most sustainable forms of development within the country’s racing sector. »

The backing of the Emir…

During the last six months, Wathnan Racing, the stable associated with the Emir of Qatar, has established itself as one of the rising forces in international horse racing, both in the domain of English thoroughbreds and PA horses. Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi said: « The name Wathnan Racing is a reference to a famous horse that belonged to the founder of our country. It’s a name with strong historical resonance. It is extremely important for horse racing in our country to have the support of the Head of State. Qatar, via QREC, has overseen the considerable development of its equestrian and equine spheres. This is a further example of the continuation of the strong bond forged between our people and the horse. It’s a tradition and heritage that is particularly alive and kicking. The Emir’s support encourages the continuation of our efforts relative to improving the quality and competitiveness of the racing sector in Qatar. It’s not something that we don’t see as a luxury: as horses are a way of life.« 

A great weekend of racing

« The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting has assumed an unprecedented international dimension over the last decade. This conforms to our strategy as it’s the symbiosis between PA horses and English thoroughbreds. We also strive to promote PA racing in its most selective form. The Qatar Arabian World Cup is a flagship race of the international PA calendar. In tandem with the Goodwood and Doha legs, the Doha Triple Crown offers a $1 million bonus to the connections of the horse completing the ‘sweep’. Seeing a horse such as Al Ghadeer (Al Mourtajez) exude class in the 2023 edition of the Qatar Arabian World Cup is a very special feeling. The Al Shaqab Racing representative is a genuine champion. He has the aura which we associate with those that leave their imprint in a given era.« 

A Festival gaining in momentum

« We are also seeking to continue and strengthen the international dimension of H.H. The Amir Sword meeting, which is scheduled for February 16th and 17th in 2024. During the last renewal we had a very broad spectrum of overseas raiders, having attracted horses from France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, plus those from Hong Kong and the Gulf States. Given its purse of $2.5 million, H.H. The Amir Sword is the richest PA race in the world. During the course of the meeting, no less than $10 million in prize money will be on offer. We are actively seeking to invite and encourage international raiders to join us at this great festival of racing. The standard and value of our races continues to rise and will continue to do so…« 

Education is a priority

« In general terms, Qatar has invested heavily in education. All the major international universities are represented in our country at Education City. We are also placing emphasis on the culture and education within the horse sector. We are also going to expand our Racing School, which takes the form of courses for riders, jockeys, trainers and grooms. We are also sending aspiring jockeys, in order to enhance their skillset, to South Africa and Great Britain. Our aim is to develop other riders – capable of matching the quality of Faleh Bughenaim. To place an industry on a solid footing, we need to develop the complete gamut of skills which revolve around the horse, and which cater for the the whole spectrum of jobs within it. »

Political action is called for at a regional level

 « QREC is also keen to promote the emergence of a more coherent Racing Calendar within the various Gulf States where flat racing is common place. A dialogue has begun with our neighbours in Saudi Arabia, and which has extended to Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait… and the resulting synergy from this must be the goal. There are many things that we could do together. The starting point must be to ensure that our respective Racing Calendars don’t overlap. We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to do something about that. For example, we would be delighted to have more Saudi Arabian runners in Qatar.« 

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