CRAON, FRANCE // Arabian horse racing has made a successful return to northwestern France as moves to promote the breed gather even more momentum.
The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Festival was back on the card at the Craon Racecourse after 16 years, with Kiss De Ghazzal winning the big race on Saturday.
“It’s a pride for the festival to bring back the Arabian races to Craon and provide all the required support and backing for the promotion of this noble creature around Europe and the rest of the world,” Lara Sawaya, the festival director, said.
The festival is becoming a truly global event with the number of races being increased.
There will be nine races for Arabian Purebreds in the Sheikh Zayed Cup series; 40 races for the Al Wathba Stud Cup; 15 for the local owners in Abu Dhabi and 25 to be held in Europe.
Henri Malard, the president of the Craon Racecourse, said: “We are pleased to host this special meeting and have it both ways. On the one hand, we are contributing to the promotion of the Arabian horse and on the other, we are enhancing the already strong ties which exist between our region and Abu Dhabi.”
“In 1994, Abu Dhabi has sponsored the French Derby in Chantilly and two Arabian races in Craon,” he said. “It was the farsightedness of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the vision of Sheikh Mansour that made our dream come true.
“At first the people were sceptical about the viability of the idea, but right now they came to realise that nothing is impossible. ”
“Abu Dhabi has been at the forefront of promoting Purebred Arabian horses and this has boosted UAE’s status and reputation worldwide,” Adnan Sultan al Nuaimi, the director general of Abu Dhab Equestrian Club, said.
The festival’s Sheikh Zayed Cup is partly organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage.
Kiss De Ghazal’s victory in Craon was the filly’s second successive win after her maiden victory in La Taste, France, earlier this year.
She streaked past Musharab, owned by Sheikh Mansour, inside the final two furlongs to win by six lengths.
Iban Battuta Monlau, was another four lengths behind, in third. The €20,000 (Dh94,744) Group 2 race was the sixth in this year’s festival.