Muscat: The UAE’s Shathra Al Hajjaj will partner Wathiq as the first leg of the 2013 HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship (IFAHR) gets underway at Al Fulaij Racecourse in Muscat on Thursday.
Twelve amateurs representing UAE, Oman, Qatar, Europe, US and Australia will line up for the inaugural race of the new season, which starts in Oman and tours 10 other cities around the world before culminating on the big night at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club in November.
The event is held under the directives of Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, as part of the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival.
Speaking during a press briefing, UAE ambassador to Oman, Abdul Redha Khouri, thanked His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and the racing authorities in Oman for their support for Purebred Arabian horseracing and breeding.
Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and Head of IFAHR Ladies Racing, said: “It’s a historical moment for Oman to host the opening leg of the HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship IFAHR, which sees 12 riders competing over a mile aboard the Omani Purebred Arabian horses in the chase for the richest prize money of €20,000 (Dh97,780). The fifth edition of the championship will witness 12 rounds in addition to the opening leg of the HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak World Ladies Championship IFAHR and Shaikh Zayed Cup. Saudi lady jockeys will also join the championship right from the upcoming round.
“The festival is hosting 68 races around the globe. It started in 2009 with four races which were increased to 17 in 2010 and 51 in 2011 and 61 in 2012. Abu Dhabi was elected the capital of the world’s women horse races by the world Arabian Horse Racing Authority IFAHR.
“A special heritage tent will be set within the racecourse, where six ladies will be showcasing a number of popular dishes from the UAE.”
Meanwhile, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of the foreign promotion department at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, highlighted the outstanding success of the festival at the Arabian and international arenas which eventually put the Arabian horse races in the heart of the international racing calendar.