Tribune News Network
Forty-eight hours prior to kick off of the HH The Amir Sword Festival at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC), the declarations of the festival races, to be run from this Thursday till Saturday, February 17, at the Al Rayyan Racecourse were announced.
All the races promise to be enthralling and thrilling with local horses reaching the peak of their potential at this time of the season and international riders targeting victories in the international races of the prestigious festival.
Race declarations reveal the final names of the horses, connections and jockeys involved in each race.
Trainers decide their final and optimum plans based on the abilities of their own horses as well as those of other horses in race and seek to come up with the tactics, which would assist their runners land the spoils.
Arrival of international runners International horses started their work at the Al Rayyan. The training grounds were busy in the morning with horse connections paying careful attention to all details. The number of international horses has been on the increase throughout the years and this year sees the largest number so far.
Al Ghadeer Vs Abbes Twenty-six races will be run at Al Rayyan throughout the three days of the HH The Amir Sword Festival.
While all races will see tough contesting, the finale will take centre stage with several headline events topped by the HH The Amir Sword for Arabians, a Group 1PA run over 2400m, with a purse of $2.5 million on offer. the world’s most valuable race for Purebred Arabians is also the third and final stage of the Doha Triple Crown.
As officially announced through the declarations, 11 runners head to the starting gates in the Sword race. All eyes are on Al Shaqab Racing’s Al Ghadeer, who bids to become the first winner of the Doha Triple Crown since Ebraz landed the legendary title in 2020. Wathan Racing’s Abbes, the title holder, will also take centre stage in the prestigious event as he seeks to retain the Sword glory for the second straight year following his impressive victory in last year’s renewal.
The list of runners also includes Al Shaqab Racing’s Mezown Ezown and Al Tammtam, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Al Doha, HE Sheikha Iman bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Hareeb, HE Sheikha Yasmeen bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Divine Princess, HE Sheikha Reem bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Aa Feel The Burn, Sultan Ali Al Senaidi’s Djalnor, Wathnan Racing’s Bin Al Tair and Abdullah bin Fahad A H Al Attiyah’s Ch’ezza.
Large scale international presence in the Trophy The other feature is the HH The Amir Trophy for Thoroughbreds, a Qatari Group 1, not only over the same distance and offering the same prize money as the Sword race, but will also see the same number of runners. Of all 26 races of the Festival, the Trophy race has the largest number of international runners with six countries represented. The challengers are headed by Mike Cheung Shun Ching’s Russian Emperor, who returned from Hong Kong to defend his title as the winner of the Trophy last year and will bid for retaining the Trophy for the second year in a row. However, his task will not be easy with other tough challengers, including Wathan Racing’s trio of Jeff Koons, Simca Mille and Haunted Dream, the Japanese trio of Noboru Iyama’s North Bridge, Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd’s Zeffiro and Hajime Satomi’s Satono Glanz, the UK raider Shadwell’s Israr, the Godolphin’s duo of Rebel’s Romance and Passion and Glory, and from Ireland Coolmore’s Ppoint Lonsdale.
Top quality racing at Al Rayyan The action kicks off on Thursday, with eight races taking centre stage, of which six to be run over 1700m and two over 1200m. The Sand Championships are an excellent chance to see the very best fight it out, with fantastic prize money up for grabs.
The evening is headlined by the finale, the Thoroughbred Sand Championship, for four-year-old and upwards.
Day two is a bumper edition, with 10 races set to be run over a variety of distances. The Thoroughbred Open Sprint Cup opens the proceedings, but the main events come in the form of our final three races.
The Purebred Arabian Sprint Cup, Al Zubara Trophy and finally the Al Rayyan Breeders Cup never fail to impress and this year could well be the best yet.
Saturday features another high-class eight races, with no less than three Gr1’s on the card. The first of which comes in the form of our second race, the Qatar International Cup, a 1600m contest for Purebred Arabians. The HH The Amir Trophy, for Thoroughbreds, is the penultimate and is held over 2400m. Our finale is the HH The Amir Sword, over the same distance, but this time for Purebred Arabians, bringing to an end to what will no doubt be an exhilarating three days racing.