HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival at Chelmsford Racecourse
AS FAR as sport goes, you might more readily associate the United Arab Emirates’ deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansoor with football in this country, as he is famously the owner of Manchester City FC which his investment company ADUG acquired in 2008.
However he is also a big lover and sponsor of horse racing, and particularly Arabian pure-bred racing horses.
On Saturday 12 August the UAE’s HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival, which aims to publicise these Arabian horses to the European public, arrived in Chelmsford, Essex, at the city’s famous racecourse.
Part of an inaugural UAE Abu Dhabi Day organised by the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO), the event saw six pure-bred Arabian horse races held in front of an enthusiastic 10,000-strong audience.
Also taking place for the first time were the UK stages of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Group 1) and the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies and Apprentice World Championships (IFAHR) races, which were run together on the same card as the feature race.
Fittingly it was the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Cup which provided the crowd with the most exciting finish, featuring horses Mith’haf Athbah and Kalino, who with a prize fund of €1.2 million Euros is the world’s richest Arabian racing horse.
The race saw them both duelling up the home straight and requiring a photo-finish to confirm Mith’haf Athbah’s win by a nose.
Chelmsford Racecourse manager Fraser Garrity said afterwards: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to have the Arabian Racing Organisation and the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival races here today. It is also a special privilege to be staging our first ever Group 1 race which produced the best finish of the night – it really got the crowd going.”
Lara Sawaya, executive director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival, added: “Today has been an outstanding race meeting and the Festival’s races have proved to be a big draw at this venue here in the UK.”
Sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the Festival will continue over the next three months with dates in Poland, France and the USA.
For further information go to www.sheikhmansoorfestival.com