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Zayed Cup breaks ice with debut on frozen lake

St Moritz comes alive to host Purebred Arabian showpiece

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: After breaking new ground at leading racecourses around the globe, the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival is set to break new ground.

The festival’s Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup race series, which has already stopped at leading racecourses in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Poland and Morocco, will now visit the St Moritz and become part of the ‘White Turf’ legend.

The Swiss resort comes alive with about 30,000 horse racing fans at these unique race meetings on the frozen lake during the first three Sundays in February every year and this year the cup will feature more than half-a-dozen Purebred Arabian horses at the event.

“Every winter St Moritz hosts the White Turf horse race on the frozen Lake St Moritz and by becoming part of this race meeting on the important third Sunday (February 17) gives the series a new status and a huge boost to Purebred Arabian racing,” said Lara Sawaya, Director of the Shaikh Mansour Festival and Head of Ladies racing in IFAHR. “The race will be run over a distance of 1,800 metres on the snow/ice track and we have some horses that have already taken part in the festival’s racing making this historic trip.”

Seven horses have entered for the €25,000 (Dh122,739) race, with Germany’s 2012 champion Fanal Al Samawi also in the starting line-up.

The five-year-old chestnut son of Ainhoa St Faust had an impressive run of four wins between July and September last year and in his last start was second to Paramour T in October.

Apart from Fanal Al Samawi, trainer Karen R van den Bos, who has had some success at the festival, will be represented by Djetkan, third to Ijad in the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship IFAHR.

Other runners include Badjy, Switzerland’s Nil Ashal and Nil Karazi, Logudorese from Italy and Ghilali from France.

Apart from the horse racing, the frozen lake of St Moritz also hosts a polo championship while St Moritz has been the host city for the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. It also hosted the 1934, 1974 and 2003 World Alpine Skiing Championships.

Commenting on the debut at St Moritz, Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), who organise the festival, said: “Ever since the Shaikh Mansour Festival was launched it has grown from strength to strength and this debut in St Moritz is another feather in the festival’s cap of success.”