Arab racing goes to Hollywood next year

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SALAAM ALAIKUM from Abu Dhabi for the International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2013.

Since Wednesday the emirate’s exhibition centre has been packed with hundreds of stands. Each of the seven halls has a different theme: weaponry, outdoor leisure, hunting, falconry, cultural heritage, equestrian and an arena in which animal shows take place.

The equestrian hall is dominated by the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan festival, which this year is landscaped like an exotic garden, with an actual-size model of horses in a race and a stud farm.

The stands in this zone are manned by organisations involved in the purebred Arabian racing world, including from Britain the Arabian Racing Organisation, Newbury racecourse, PR agency Sportsguide – and, for the first time this year, the Racing Post, which since this summer has been carrying full-colour cards for all Arab races in Britain and Ireland to enhance racegoers’ interest in the sport.

There’s plenty to see and do when on a break from manning the Racing Post stand and exchanging ideas with visitors and other delegates. You can pass through the heavy security to reach the weaponry hall and try out a revolver for size; they are displayed attached to retractable wires, much like digital cameras in Currys.

At a more gentle pace, the Saluki beauty contest was fascinating, and in the evenings the Arab horse show in the arena provides ample entertainment.

Thursday morning in the equestrian hall began with a flurry of excitement as a press conference was called to make an exciting announcement in the Arab racing world.

In a move that makes British thoroughbred award ceremonies look downright mundane, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley awards, which honour women in purebred Arabian racing, will take place next April in the Hollywood theatre that hosts the Oscars, with a gala dinner at Universal Studios.

The exhibition runs until Saturday with the promise of more intrigue to come – another press conference announcing a new development in endurance racing and a camel auction.

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