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The Importance of the Arab World to Horse Racing

posted on: May 4, 2020

The Importance of the Arab World to Horse Racing

There are some huge reasons why the Arab world is closely linked to horse racing. From famous studs to fantastic races, the Arabian influence in this sport is easy to spot.

Arab Horses

The Arabian horse is a historic, elegant breed that is incredibly versatile. Its easily recognizable head and high tail can be seen in images from 4,500 years in the past through to the present day.

While this breed is thought to have originated in the deserts of the Arabian peninsula, they are now found all over the planet and most modern horses have at least a degree of Arab genes in them.

These noble horses are especially valued for this alert nature and high spirits. Physically, Arabian horses are noted for their ability to maintain high speeds of long distances, meaning that they are perfectly suited to endurance racing.

Almost all modern thoroughbreds can be traced back to a small group of Arabian steeds that traveled to Europe in the 18th century. The legendary Darley Arabian was a stud that was brought to England from Syria and reportedly his genes can be found in 95% of modern thoroughbreds.

An example of an event that Arabian horses excel in is the 100 miles Tevis Cup that is held in California each year. They also tend to stand out in the FEI World Equestrian Games.

Arab Horse Races

This genre is less well-known than other types of horse races, but a lot of hard work has been carried out in recent years to correct this. For example, the UK’s Newbury racecourse has a day each year that celebrates the Arab influence in the racing world.

The International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing regulates races involving this breed all over the world. The Dubai International Arabian Races program also helps to improve awareness of the races that involve this breed. In the US, the Arabian Jockey Club is dedicated to promoting this type of race.

Perhaps the best-known American events for Arabian horses are the Texas Arabian Six Shooter Stakes and the Texas Arabian Yellow Rose Stakes, with both events taking place at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

The Qatar International Stakes at Goodwood Racecourse in England is another race specifically for Arabian horses that have an excellent reputation and attracts quality horses. This is part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival that is one of the most exciting parts of the flat season.

Horse Racing in the Middle East

In recent years, the horse racing industry in the Middle East has grown impressively. This region is now home to some of the finest racecourses and richest prizes in the sport. It is popular with owners looking for huge prizes, and spectators keen to find attractive odds.

If we look at the example of Dubai, we can see that the stunning Meydan Racecourse was opened in 2010, as a sleek replacement for the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse that once stood there. It has capacity for more than 60,000 spectators and the grandstand is more than a mile long.

The work on this stadium is said to have cost $1.25 billion, making it the most expensive racecourse in the world. As well as the racetrack, the Meydan development includes a 5-star hotel, museum, and golf course.

Among the most noteworthy races held here is the Dubai World Cup, which occurs at the end of March annually. A $12 million purse makes this the world’s richest horse race, surpassing by far the Kentucky Derby betting prizes. Other races that place in this part of the world include the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Jebel Hatta, with Abu Dhabi also being home to several important races.

While Dubai arguably now has the best horse racing on the planet, it is worth remembering that Bahrain has also played a big part in the sport. Indeed, the inaugural Bahrain International Trophy was run at the end of 2019 and was won by Royal Julius.


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