Khaleej Times Online : Six-horse field for Shaikh Mansour festival in Craon

DUBAI – The Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival’s Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – Prix Cheri Bibi will take place on Saturday (September 3) at the Craon Hippodrome, France. Reserved for three-year olds, the prize money on offer is pounds 20,000.

Six horses have entered the Group 2 PA race and the distance to cover on grass is 2,200 metres. The race, the second in the Shaikh Mansour Festival series in France, this year, after the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Prix Carthage-Hannnibal in Toulouse, is also the eighth in this year’s Shaikh Mansoor Festival’s Sheikh Zayed Cup race series.

Leading the six-horse field is Aakif, owned by Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. Trained by TR Litt, the three-year-old will be ridden by Arnaud Bourgeais. Ghalib, to be ridden by Christophe Soumillon, is another Shaikh Mansour-owned horse and is trained by Jean Francois Bernard. Though the two are the favourites, strong challenges are expected to come from Magua, who finished third in the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Listed) race held in Frankfurt, last month. Un’art, Chimco and Checker are other horses in the fray.

Abdullah Al Qubaisi, director of communications, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), said: “The Arabian horse has a significant presence in the UAE’s culture and heritage and in this contest we are committed to strengthen it thanks to Shaikh Mansour’s effort in promoting Purebred Arabians by hosting races in various parts of the world.”

Lara Sawaya, director of Shaikh Mansour Festival, said: “The festival was organised for the first time in 2009 with few races and it has grown in stature. This year it has witnessed the debut of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Fegentri Cup in the Netherlands.”

“The passion for horses on the Arabian peninsula was and still is being transferred from generation to generation. The history of horse riding is centuries-old and our objective is to raise global awareness of this aspect among those who are involved in this sport,” said Sawaya adding that Saturday’s race will be an exciting one.

Stephen Bowey, executive director (marketing) of Invest AD, said: “We have been supporting Shaikh Mansour Festival’s races for quite some time and we are pleased to be working to achieve his initiative in promoting Arabian horses globally.” Ali Al Mulla, chairman of Areej Al Ameerat, said: “Arabian horses have been appearing on the French racetracks since the mid-nineties and it has gained further momentum with the Festival’s races. Mirna Youness of La Sirene stated: “Arabian horses have become a subject of interest of breeders from all over the world and all credit goes to Shaikh Mansour for his excellent support.