Newbury, England: Phil Collington returns to his happy hunting ground at Newbury Racecourse on Sunday, where he hopes to build on his astonishing success as a rider, when he saddles 11 contenders in this year’s much-anticipated renewal of the Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR).
Collington was the all-time leading rider at the DIAR races, since it was staged at Newbury in 2003, and since his retirement four years ago has taken up the challenging role of trainer for Purebred Arabians, many of whom are owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Shaikh Hamdan, one of the most powerful and influential figures in international horse racing, created the DIAR — or Dubai Race Day as it is popularly referred to — back in 1981 as a platform to promote and develop Arabian racing, which is close to his heart.
Shaikh Hamdan sponsors Newbury’s flagship race day under the umbrella of his breeding umpire, Shadwell, and will be represented by 20 runners, conditioned by three different trainers, across the eight-race card.
The highlight of the afternoon is the Group 1 Shadwell Dubai International Stakes over 2,000 metres, which has attracted a high-quality field of seven runners, including his own representative, the French-trained No And No Al Maury, who will be ridden by his retained jockey Jim Crowley.
Shaikh Hamdan is seeking an unprecedented 11 success in the race and his first since Muraaqib in 2016.
£193,000is the prize money on offer at Purebred Arabian racing’s flagship event
As many as 73 Purebred Arabian stars from around the UK and Europe, including winners of the nine prep races, will compete prize money totalling £193,000 (Dh877,608), the richest purse for the breed.
The feature race is supported by two other Group 1 contests, the Jebel Ali Racecourse Za’abeel International Stakes over six furlongs and the Shadwell Arabian Stallions Hatta International Stakes over 2,000m.
Other races on the card include the UAE Embassy in London International Stakes, Dubai Developments Premier Handicap Stakes, Emirates NBD Handicap Stakes, Emirates Premier Handicap Stakes and Roda Hotels & Resorts Premier Handicap Stakes.
73Purebred Arabian horses will compete over eight races
Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of Shaikh Hamdan’s Office and who heads the organising committee for the Dubai International Arabian Races, stressed the importance of Dubai Race Day.
“This year it will be a new chapter of Purebred Arabian racing and the DIAR, which is so close to Shaikh Hamdan’s heart,” he said. “Shaikh Hamdan is a keen and passionate supporter of horse racing and is fully committed to sponsoring events like Dubai Race Day.
“Through his vision, and backing, Arabian racing has enjoyed a steady growth in the UK and across Europe. Arab races are now held alongside Thoroughbred races, which is a major accomplishment as it give the breed more exposure to the racing public.
20runners owned by Shaikh Hamdan will be seen in action on Saturday
“We are now in our 38th year and it has been a wonderful and rewarding journey. We could not have gained so much ground without the unstintined support of Shaikh Hamdan, the racing authorities in the UK and Europe, owners and trainers of Arabian horses, and the race loving public who make each race meeting so enjoyable.”
Horses that finished in top three positions in a Preparation Race during the summer and who win one of the bonus races on Sunday will receive a bonus in addition to the official prize money of the race.
The 5 bonus races and the allocated bonuses are:
• Shadwell Dubai International Stakes, £3,000
• Shadwell Arabian Stallions Hatta International Stakes £2,000
• Jebel Ali Racecourse Za’abeel International Stakes £2,000
• DIAR International Stakes £1,000
• Roda Hotels & Resorts Premier Handicap Stakes: £500 (UK domestic horses only)