The Dubai International Arabian Races in Britain likely will have to find a new slot next year after the Qatar International Equestrian Committee this week released more details about their Triple Crown programme.
The Qatar Harwood International Stakes will be moved this year from the September fixture of its first two runnings at Doncaster Racecourse in England to the Goodwood Racecourse, where it will be staged on August 1 – the final day of the five-day meeting known as Glorious Goodwood – as the first leg of the three-race series.
The Qatar Harwood International was already Britain’s most valuable Purebred Arabian contest, but the 1,600-metre race now boasts a purse of £400,000 (Dh2.27 million), up from £150,000 last year.
The second leg of the Triple Crown will be the Qatar Arabian World Cup, over 2,000m, which will again be run for €1 million (Dh4.1m) on the first Sunday of October in Paris.
The crown’s finale will be next year’s Emir’s Sword over 2,400m and worth Dh3m.
If one horse can complete the Triple Crown there will be a bonus of US$1 million.
This year’s version of the Emir’s Sword was run on Thursday in Doha and won by Al Shaqab Racing’s Al Mourtazez.
Dubai International races are scheduled this year at Newbury on July 26 and the feature 2,000m Shadwell Stud Dubai International Stakes will clash with Qatar’s new race.
“There is no denying that the Harwood and the International are too similar for comfort,” said Amanda Smith, the racing manager for the Arabian Racing Organisation. “It is not ideal and Dubai day has been fixed in the calendar for some time.”
Provisionally, the Harwood International will be staged two weeks before the Prix Kesberoy and Prix Manganate, both Group 1 races worth €50,000 (Dh206,000) in France, and a month before the Group 1 President of the UAE Cup Malazgirt Trophy, the Turkish race that is worth €125,000.
Qatar’s Sami Jassim Al Boenain is the president of the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities, the body that must decide whether the proposed races fit into the Purebred Arabian pattern. The new race cements Qatar’s heavy involvement with Purebred Arabian racing in Britain.
“The Qatar Arabian Triple Crown represents a major development in the global promotion of Arabian racing linking three major festivals and strengthening our alliance with European racing,” Hamad bin Abdulrahman Al Attiya, president of the Qatar Equestrian Federation, said in Doha on Thursday.
The configuration of Goodwood, a idiosyncratic switchback track, does not suit every horse and successful international Purebred Arabian trainer Julian Smart is looking forward to the challenge of unearthing a horse good enough to complete what would be a historic treble.
“It will take a very special horse to win the Qatar Arabian Triple Crown, but the challenge is there now,” he said.
“It’s very exciting to have another race of this value and importance in Europe and the positioning of the Qatar Harwood International Stakes should ensure that it is very well supported.”
In thoroughbred racing, Godolphin won both group races at Meydan on Thursday and Saeed bin Suroor appears to be in a commanding position for Saturday night's final Dubai Carnival meeting before Super Saturday next week and Dubai World Cup night at the end of March.
Bin Suroor saddles Cavalryman and Ahzeemah, both previous winners in Saturday night’s Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, as well as Excellent Result. William Buick rides Cavalryman, who has not run since August at York Racecourse in England.
“It was always the plan to wait for this race for Cavalryman’s return to action, but he runs well fresh as he showed when winning this on his seasonal debut 12 months ago,” Bin Suroor said. “All three should run well.”
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