Lively debates at IFHRA Conference

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The one-day conference comes within the calendar of International Federation of Horse Racing Academies, an (IFHAR) activity, which falls under the umbrella of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Horse Racing Festival.

The conference began with an opening speech by Dr Abdullah Al Raisi, Director General, UAE National Archives. He stated he was proud to state that the year 2018 will not only see the 10th anniversary of the Festival and 100th year of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan but also the 50th year of National Archives. He went back a little in history to reminisce that Sheikh Zayed who was the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain from 1946-1966 turned the desert into an oasis as a result of which the UAE is today home to100 million palm trees, the only country in the world to have so many palm trees.

Further elaborating on Sheikh Zayed’s vision, Dr Al Raisi added that UAE today places utmost importance to two sectors: Education and Health. “The initiative started by Sheikh Zayed is being taken forward by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and Head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood’’.

Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director, Overseas Promotion, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi and Aref Al Awani, secretary General, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, welcomed the gathering.

Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, General Manager of the Wathba Stallions, Chairperson of the Int’l Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), in her opening remarks stated that the data base for the Pure-bred Arabian racing will be completed in association with the National Archives and will be released during the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in Madrid, Spain, in April 2018. She said it is a huge project under the initiative of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs.


The day began with deliberations on “New Developments and Research towards Healthier Riders” which was moderated by Philip Brenan from the UK.

One of the key speakers was Dr Carl Mattacola, Researcher, University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences and the UK Sports Medicine Research Institute, SMRI, who is working in partnership with Jockey’s Guild (US). He spoke about the establishment of a registry that can be utilized to look at injuries among professional jockeys and to develop new protocols on detecting and reducing the long-term effects of head trauma from riding accidents across many disciplines in equitation.

“Our mission is to achieve optimal health through research, performance and community outreach,” he stressed.

Acaena Amoros and Mahi Aramideh, both from Elixir London Clinic, with branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and London, who have worked extensively with cancer patients, once again reiterated the importance of IV Vitamin Infusion (VitaDrp). “We try to deliver vitamins, minerals, amino acids to those who need which could be either athletes or jockeys or any other person who needs detoxify and rejuvenate. The procedure is custom-made to suit the recipients,’ they added.

Phil Collington, former jockey and currently a trainer stressed on fitness levels and noted that nutrition played a very important level in the life of the jockeys. The second session focused on “Life after the saddle: Career Planning for Retired Riders”, which was moderated by Derek Thomson. Speaker line-up included Pak Buckley, Racing Director, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Josephine Chini, former top amateur jockey and now on-air reporter for Racing UK, Eric Lemartinel, former steeplechase jockey and a now a top UAE trainer, Melissa Weatherly, Athlete and Careers Development Manager, Racing Victoria and Hector Libre, Director, Escuela de Jockeys Aprendices Del Jockey Club, (Argentina), who is also a former top jockey turned trainer.

All the participants felt it is important to plan their retirement ahead as anything can happen to the riders irrespective of age.

They stressed the importance of ‘career counseling’ which will help them to make a conscious decision on their plans to either retire or look for other jobs. In This direction Melissa mentioned that Jockey Assistance Programme at Racing Victoria is gibing valuable inputs.

The concluding session of the day was “The IFHRA Mentorship Programme; New Horizons for Students.” Moderated by Derek Thomson, the panelists included Remi Bellocq, Executive Director , North American Racing Academy and General Secretary, IFHRA; Rikke Bay Torp from Dansk Galop; Gaye Gauci-Marchant from Australia; Keith Rowe, Director, Racing Academy and Centre of Education, Ireland and Jack Pilkington, RACE graduate and 2017 IFHRA recipient and currently Assistance trainer in Dubai.

Remi Bellocq stated that IFHRA is offering a variety of opportunities for youngsters in the equine industry. “Last year 18 students completed the mentorship programme in different countries which itself goes to show the success of the programme.

Rikke Bay Topp stated that it’s a great opportunity for students to learn from different atmospheres.

Gayle said that the mentorship programme was ‘incredible’. “It’s a great opportunity for students to be part of this programme, learning new cultures,

making friends and overcome language barriers.”

Keith Rowe presented a slide show which showed that their organisation hosted five students and sent two from Ireland.

But what caught the attention of everyone was Jack Pilkington, the Irish boy who went to Canada for his two-month programme. Exuberated and still not recovered from the prograame, Jack went at length to discuss his experiences. At 6+foot height, Jack wants to be a trainer.

A workshop was held for IFHRA student riders on Saturday, November 11, 2017. The student riders were in full attendance with their workout attire.

Sessions were help on professional development, use of race simulators and also on social media networking. Experts were available to give valuable inputs to the trainers.

The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and sponsored by Ayadi LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2017, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.