Gulf News: Wathba race day

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Avenches, Switzerland: The initiative of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to promote Purebred Arabian racing reached yet another country and Switzerland’s Avenches, the ancient capital of Roman Helvetica is the latest venue for today’s Wathba Stud Farm race.

Today’s 1800-metre race also kicks off the 2010-11 Wathba Stud Farm Cup series of races which is part of the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

The 142-hectare Equestrian Sports Centre in Avenches is the horse capital of Switzerland and stages all equestrian events but today’s spotlight will be on the six Purebred Arabians which is expected to trigger off a renewed interest in Arabian racing.

Rami, a 4-year-old Dormane colt and smart winner in his last start over 12 furlongs in Bourdeaux, France and Tarfa, a 4-year-old Kerbella filly, who has also won her last start over 2,300 metres at Beaumont de Lomogne, France represent the hopes of owner Shaikh Mansour.

A good run

“Both are trained by Jean-Francois Bernard and we are looking at a good run from them,” said Marcial Boisseuil, Manager of the Wathba Stud Farm based in Normandy, France.

“Rami beat Akbar Lotois and Marouf Al Khalidiah in Bourdeaux last month while Tarfa scored her first win after two unplaced runs,” he added.

Banjo du Loup comes in as Germany’s top Arabian and along with Nil Ishan Ibnal Sabke poses a strong challenge to the Shaikh Mansour-owned duo. Nil Ishan Ibnal Sabke comes in with a strong reputation and won his last start, the Emirates Airlines Stakes held in Hamburg.

Terska, a 5-year-old grey filly is yet to score ion three starts this year but will be hoping to regain her form that helped win three races last year.

Revival of races

Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Director of Communications, Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage, said: “ADACH hopes that this first race in Switzerland will help revive and spread Purebred Arabian racing in this part of Europe.”

“Once again we have to thank Shaikh Mansour for his support and going by the success of the past races we are sure this will be a huge success,” he said.

Lara Sawaya, Director of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, said: “This Wathba Stud Farm Cup race is the first for this season and will be followed by 15 races during the Abu Dhabi racing season.”

“The Shaikh Mansour Festival and the recently-organised first-ever Arabian Racing Conference have re-ignited the interest in Arabian horse racing and breeding in Europe.

“We hope this debut race here in Switzerland will add to that success,” she said.