Bahrain International Trophy a 'stepping stone' for more international horse racing in Bahrain

The £200,000 race was introduced at Newmarket, England on Thursday and will take place on November 22

NEWMARKET, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Jamie Spencer riding Spanish Mission (green) win The Bahrain Trophy Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse on July 11, 2019 in Newmarket, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
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The Bahrain International Trophy can be a "stepping stone" for more horse racing to be held in the Gulf nation, Sheikh Salman bin Rashed Al Khalifa, the executive director of Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club (REHRC), said.

The new £200,000 (Dh920,000) race was announced at Newmarket, England on Thursday - the same day the Bahrain Trophy Stakes, a race sponsored by REHRC, was held at the racecourse. The Bahrain Trophy was won by Spanish Mission and jockey Jamie Spencer.

The Bahrain International Trophy will take place on November 22 and will be run on turf over 1m2f. The race will boast a maximum field of 14 runners and they all must be rated 95 or higher to ensure a high-quality race.

“Our main goal for the Bahrain International Trophy is to get a good field of highly rated horses, that’s what we’re hoping for. We’re definitely looking for international runners," Sheikh Salman said.

“The high committee of the club approved the race four months ago and we chose to officially announce the race during the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. We’re going to be talking to trainers and owners at the meeting to market the race. I’ve met a good number of people who are very excited to see this race happen.”

International horse racing has been a key sport in the UAE for many years, with the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan - headlined by the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup - a highlight on the sporting calendar.

Sheikh Salman said Bahrain can look at Dubai's success as an example of how to grow their horse racing scene, and believes the Bahrain International Trophy is just the start.

“We’re hosting one race this year and it’s definitely going to be a stepping stone towards bigger events in the future," he said. "I’m sure the plan is to host more international races and we would love to attract a big number of owners and trainers to race in Bahrain.

“It’s just another opportunity. Dubai is around the corner and a lot of people send their horses there during the winter to race, so we thought it would work really nicely for people to have another option in the region.

“We have to start somewhere. It’s a very, very good start and it’s going to be a learning curve for everyone involved."