Manama, Nov. 21 (BNA): The eyes of the racing world are on Bahrain as it hosts the Bahrain International Trophy event – a world-class inaugural international horserace – on Friday
HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa has welcomed the calibre of participants in this marquee race and is encouraging as many race fans as possible to attend this historic event.
The successful Post Position Draw (PPD) event, held on November 20, was attended by the Deputy Chairman of the High Committee for the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club (REHC), HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Minister of Oil, Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, representatives from race partners Batelco, as well as owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and various journalists from international and local media.
The PPD was held to determine the starting gate positions of the 14 racehorses taking part in the Bahrain International Trophy at REHC this Friday. It also served as the stage for the grand unveiling of the winner’s cup, made from sterling silver and mahogany.
The Draw was presented by renowned TV racing presenter Nick Luck, along with noted horse racing announcer Mark Johnson and broadcast live locally on BTV and internationally on Racing TV. The presenting team and camera crews will also be in attendance to capture all of the splendour and nail-biting action from the REHC on race day.
From the sidelines of the PPD, HH Shaikh Isa commented: “On a personal note, I am very excited to welcome all these international horses. It is a solid field and would be a solid Group 2 race anywhere around the world. Bahraini-owned horses have had a very successful year on racetracks internationally, including an unprecedented two Royal Ascot winners, so it is only natural that we now take the next step here locally in the Kingdom to host a race of this calibre.”
He continued: “I would love everyone to come out and show support. It is truly a world class, marquee event. This is a calibre of horses you will not find on a regular basis on the island.”
The Bahrain International Trophy is the Kingdom’s very first international horse race, coming as a direct result of HH Shaikh Isa’s vision, with the support of HH Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairman of the High Committee for the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club (REHC) along with local partners Gulf Air, BAPCO and Batelco.
The event has taken the international horse racing world by storm, attracting nine distinguished European thoroughbreds alongside five high-achieving local runners, competing in the main race over 2,000 metres (10 furlongs) of turf.
Speaking after the draw, REHC executive director Shaikh Salman bin Rashed Al Khalifa said: “Attracting so many top owners, trainers, jockeys and horses for our first international race has exceeded our expectations and truly means a lot for Bahrain. I am sure this is only the beginning of a successful journey which will establish our country as a vital fixture in the racing calendar.”
Shaikh Salman took time to pay tribute to the REHC’s local partners – Gulf Air, BAPCO and Batelco – and to all those associated with managing the racecourse, commenting: “It is clear everyone involved in making this race meeting happen has worked from the heart.”
Shaikh Salman expanded by arguing a seminal event like this will lead to further high-level international competitions, which will in turn allow the broader attractions of the island to be highlighted on the world stage: “As well as benefiting our racing, I believe this event will benefit the tourism sector in Bahrain immensely. We have put in place a schedule of events designed to showcase everything our country has to offer, with the aim for everyone to leave here with a positive image of Bahrain.”
The visitors have also been given the chance to inspect the REHC course itself, with trainers especially impressed by the magnificent condition of the turf. The track has been cared for over the past five years by REHC facilities manager and clerk Neil Mackenzie-Ross, who brings a wealth of experience to the role after spending nine years in a similar role at Lingfield Park in England before moving to Bahrain.
Neil commented: “The reason I came to live and work here was for the opportunity to get Bahrain to a position where we could have international racing like this, so there is a real sense of achievement about staging the Bahrain International Trophy.”
Preliminary races will start on Friday at REHC at 1:40pm, with the main race slated for 4:30pm. The event will be open to the public free of charge in addition to being broadcast live locally on BTV and internationally on Racing TV. Alongside the event itself, the festivities will include family-friendly entertainment options alongside a variety of food and beverage vendors.