Horseracing
Shaikh Hamdan has been the brain behind the Dubai International Race Day, held annually at Newbury, England to promote the best of Purebred Arabian racing. Image Credit: Courtesy: Organisers

Dubai: The annual Dubai International Arabian Raceday (DIAR) at Newbury, England, has been postponed till September, according to Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.

Al Sayegh, who is also the Chairman of the DIAR Organizing Committee, said that the decision was taken following high level discussions between the DIAR and the Arabian Racing Organization (ARO) to safeguard the event during the havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The popular race meeting, which attracts the best Purebred Arabian horses from around the world to compete in some of the sport’s most prestigious races Newbury, was originally scheduled to be held on July 26.

Al Sayegh noted that the event’s primary objective of engaging with racing fans would be lost in view of the current ban on public attending sporting events in the UK. “Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Founder and patron of DIAR, does not view DIAR day as just another race-day,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

It will be difficult to stage DIAR, which celebrated its 38th edition last year, behind closed doors, as it will not be able to deliver on its mission as a premier event that showcases the UAE’s support to Purebred Arabians and its interaction with the local British communities

- Mirza Al Sayegh

“It was created rather as an integrated event that has national, diplomatic, media, social, educational and promotional dimensions. The DIAR organizing committee is always seeking to turn that vision into a reality.

“We understand the exceptional circumstances and fallouts as a result of the COVID-19 which has forced racing to be staged behind closed doors under strict guidelines that still prohibit owners, and in some cases trainers, from being present at the racecourses, let alone the public,” Al Sayegh added.

He once again reiterated that racing fans, both young and old, are the main objective of staging the Dubai International Arabian Race Day, and without whom it would not be half as enjoyable and thrilling an occasion.

“It will be difficult to stage DIAR, which celebrated its 38th edition last year, behind closed doors, as it will not be able to deliver on its mission as a premier event that showcases the UAE’s support to Purebred Arabians and its interaction with the local British communities,” Al Sayegh said.

“Significantly, it gives us the opportunity to spread the UAE’s culture by interacting with local schools and involving the students in the events on the day at Newbury.

“Since the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot, which is always held one day before DIAR, will be held behind closed doors, the DIAR Organizing Committee has opted to wait till early August this year to assess the situation and find out whether public will be allowed into racecourses.

“Should we feel that the outcome is positive, we will not hesitate to give the green light for staging the event, possibly in September,” he continued.