The Sharjah Equestrian Club will host the first ever Gulf Cup for horses bred in the Gulf countries, organisers announced on Monday.
The inaugural event has drawn 11 runners for the Purebred Arabian race. It boasts a Dh200,000 prize fund and Prestige status, and will be run over 1,700 metres at Sharjah’s penultimate meeting of the season on Saturday.
The Gulf Cup is an initiative of Sheikh Abdullah bin Majid Al Qassimi, President of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club (SERC), to bring together the best locally bred horses from each of the Gulf nations.
“This is a unique race and features some of the top Purebred Arabians bred in the Gulf,” Sheikh Abdullah told reporters on Monday.
“We are very much look forward to hosting this event in Sharjah because it brings together the entire racing fraternity for the Arabians in a very competitive environment.
“The objective is also to promote races, particularly for the Arabians, in the Gulf countries. I’m pretty sure the Gulf Cup will be a permanent fixture in the UAE’s racing calendar every season.
“From next year we are thinking of having a race like this purely for Emirates bred horses.”
The host nation has six runners representing six different trainers and owners, while Saudi Arabia has a quartet, with a solitary entry from Oman.
The UAE challenge is spearheaded by the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained AF Mahshoum in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid. The six-year-old is the highest rated (109) of the local runners, which also includes Eric Lemartinel’s Shaheer, and Ernst Oertel’s AF Maher, who has won on all his three of his starts at the Sharjah racetrack.
Completing the UAE-represented field are Khalifa Al Neyadi’s AF Sanad, Irfan Ellahi’s JAP Yajoud and Helal Al Alawi’s Shaddad Al Wathba.
Saudi Arabia are well represented with four runners, of which three are trained by Mutlaq bin Mashref. His challenge is led by Nader Al Khalediah, the highest rated (113) in the field, and includes Mubasher Al Khalediah and Morheb Al Khalediah.
Lassad Marouane’s Shareq Al Khaledia completes the Saudi line-up, while Younis Al Kalbani’s Al Mobher represents Oman.
Sultan Al Yahyaie, the director general of SERC, said they have plan to stage more similar events in the future.
“We expect a competitive race with horses bred locally in different parts of the region with an attractive prize fund to ensure the competition is of the highest level,” he said.