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GCC Cup to enhance status of Purebred Arabian racing in region
Amir Naqvi February 12, 2019
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SHARJAH: After making history following the huge success of the CSI5* Show Jumping event, Sharjah Racing and Equestrian Club (SERC) will host the inaugural edition of the GCC Cup on Saturday, Feb.16.

The brainchild of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Majid Al Qassimi, President of the SERC, the event aims to elevate the status of Purebred Arabian racing across the GCC.

The GCC Cup — a prestigious race for horses aged four-year-old and above — has attracted a quality field.

Eleven top-rated horses, led by Saudi Arabia’s Nader Al Khalediah, will line up alongside challengers from Oman and the UAE to vie for a prize purse of Dhs200,000 in the 1,700m contest, the highlight of a six-race card. Qassimi believes that the GCC Cup will play an instrumental role in promoting the co-operation between the neighbouring countries while showcasing the unique appeal of the Arabian racehorse.

“This race was created to support the owners and breeders of Purebred Arabian horses in the GCC region,” said Qassimi while addressing a press conference on Monday.

“This is the first such event and it will feature some of the top horses bred in the GCC region so we very much look forward to hosting this event here because it brings together the entire racing fraternity in a very competitive environment. From next year we are thinking of having a race like this purely for Emirates bred horses,” Qassimi added.

The entire six-race card will be sponsored by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, through his Shadwell and Derrinstown Stud breeding operations.

Mirza Al Sayegh, the Director of Sheikh Hamdan’s office, said: “When Sheikh Hamdan heard about the GCC Cup, he did not hesitate to offer his support and said ‘just go for it’ when it comes to Sharjah.

“Sheikh Hamdan believes that this is a great way to enhance Arabian racing in the region and to foster goodwill among the neighbours. He is always keen to do his best to support the growth of Arabian racing in the region,” he added.

Sultan Khalifa Al Sultan Al Yahyaee, the general manager of SERC, echoed similar sentiments.

“This GCC Cup will open the door for many more events like this in the future because this is an endeavour to try and bring the community together.

“We expect a competitive race with horses bred locally in different parts of the region and the lucrative prize purse will be an added incentive to ensure competition is of the highest level.” Emirates Racing Authority’s Yasir Mabrouk hailed Sheikh Abdullah’s initiative. “It is a very good initiative and idea Shaikh Abdulla has brought to the sport,” said Mabrook.

“Purebred Arabians have run here at Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and Shaikh Abdulla felt why not invite other owners from the Gulf to join it. It is more about bringing together GCC countries that enjoy Arabian racing.

“Some of the top owner-breeders in the GCC will be represented with four horses coming from Saudi Arabia, the Royal Cavalry Oman sending one horse who will come up against some of the best locally-based horses from the famed stables of the UAE.”

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