: Fatima Ladies Cup marks another milestone

Abu Dhabi: History will be made when 12 lady jockeys and their horses take off from the stalls in tomorrow’s season-opening meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club racecourse as the Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup becomes the UAE’s first-ever ladies flat-race.

The eight-furlong Prestige race for Purebred Arabian horses is part of the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zay-ed Al Nahyan Global Flat Racing Festival and tomorrow’s race follows the inaugural race held last June in Duindigt, the Netherlands.

The Shaikha Fatima IFAHR Cup, under the patronage of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and Family Development Foundation, is the new series of races open to amateur lady jockeys and the series will visit nine countries next year.

Best jockeys

While the race makes history as the first official race for lady flat-race jockeys it will also be another milestone for the UAE as fans here will see Emirati Shathra Al Hajjaj on the Eric Lemartinel-trained Baher taking on some of the best lady jockeys in the world.

Oman’s Fatima Al Manji and Qatar’s Khadija Al Bastaki complete the trio of Arab lady jockeys while also in riding are 2010 world amateur champion Tina Henriksson and Jadey Pietrasiewz.

Henriksson had finished second behind Rachel King in Duindigt while Pietrasiewz finished third but soon went on to win the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Listed) race on Poulain Kossack.

The Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup, which will now create a huge platform for lady jockeys around the world to compete at the highest level, will also be another shot in the arm for Arabian racing.

With a Dh130,000 fund giving the race a Prestige status, owners and trainers will now step forward to give the lady jockeys the opportunity to race on better horses and with this backdrop, the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup series is another historic moment for UAE sport.

Speaking to Gulf News Shathra said, “When I raced in the Netherlands it was one of the greatest experiences in my life.

Better performance

“Since then I have been looking forward to racing here in the UAE and I am thankful to Her Highness Shaikha Fatima for inspiring the women of the UAE to reach higher positions and attain success.”

An endurance rider, Al Hajjaj did well to finish seventh on Tarfa and is expected improve on that display as she will be racing on Baher, the top weight in tomorrow’s 12-horse race.