Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster, centre
Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster, centre Image Credit: Facebook

Dubai: The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the calendar for the 2020 Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR) European Prep Series with organisers calling off events that were scheduled for Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The first of 17 prep races spread across Europe, which aim to qualify the best horses for DIAR’s flagship race meeting at Newbury Racecourse in England on July 26, was scheduled for Saturday, April 19 at Capannelle racecourse in Rome.

However, the event will not take place with DIAR also cancelling races set to be staged at Bro Park, Sweden, on June 14 and Duindigt, the Netherlands, on June 28.

Speaking on behalf of DIAR’s main patron, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, Richard Lancaster, Director of the sponsor’s Shadwell Stud, said: “In light of everything that is happening at the moment and with so many imponderables at this stage, we concluded that the right decision would be to cancel the prep races in Sweden and Holland this year.

“It is a great pity, but the world has never seen anything of this magnitude and people’s health is, and must be, the number one priority.”

Meanwhile, a decision on DIAR Day will be made at a later date the organizing committee announced.

Mr Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Shaikh Hamdan, is the head of the DIAR Organising Committee and the driving force behind the race series ever since it was first held at Kempton Park, England, in 1984.

At its core, DIAR aims to enlighten more people about the Arabian breed, the sport of Arabian horse racing and the Arabic culture that underpins it.

The DIAR Prep Races carry a lucrative bonus fund that encourages international runners to comes to the UK. They offersprize money bonuses to horses placed in DIAR preparation races in Europe which then go on to win one of the bonus races at Newbury.

Earlier this year the DIAR Committee announced the dates for the DIAR European Prep Series in 2020, culminating in the flagship event at Newbury racecourse on July 26.

Mirza Al Sayegh, said: “In 2019, the DIAR prep races were very well supported, with runners coming from across all of Europe.

“Our final race day at Newbury was a great success, thanks to all participants, trainers, owners, sponsors, racecourse staff, partners as well as the public who were there to witness very competitive Arabian races.

“We are very grateful for the support we have received from all the owners and trainers who travelled from afar to participate in the DIAR race programme. The racing authorities from Italy, Sweden, Holland, France and the UK have been very helpful organising, promoting and hosting our races and we are looking forward to working with them again in 2020.

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) is a respected partnersof DIAR, and Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director commented: “The addition of the prep series four years ago completely revitalized DIAR in terms of the interest it has generated outside of the UK and last year saw our highest number of international runners declared for the meeting

“The DIAR series and of course DIAR itself have become a significant part of the European Arabian racing program. We are delighted to warmly welcome overseas competitors to the UK and recognise the importance of being able to offer international racing at some of our most prestigious Grade 1 racecourses.”