His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, honored the first batch of the Masar Godolphin programme at a ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.
The event was attended by the Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Speaking at the event, Joe Osborne, Group Chief Executive for Godolphin, said: “Masar Godolphin represents yet another demonstration of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s enduring passion for horse breeding and racing, and his continued commitment to the creation of a sustainable future for both the industry and the individuals involved in it.”
“This inaugural cohort experienced every aspect of horse racing and breeding in both Europe and the UAE, preparing them incredibly well for a future in this most exciting and demanding business. The quality of academia, horsemanship and personal development required to complete the programme was of the highest order.”
Ali Al Ali, Head of Masar Godolphin, said: “Their graduation was the final step in a nine-month journey, which provided eight outstanding and ambitious UAE nationals with a unique and unrivalled opportunity to embrace their equestrian heritage, with the aim of becoming the business leaders of the future.”
Ribchester is poised to end his illustrious racing career with a crack at the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar on Nov 4 before retirement to Kildangan Stud as a Darley stallion.
The Godolphin flagship was given the green light to travel by trainer Richard Fahey after a routine workout on his home gallops at Malton, North Yorkshire, on Thursday.
It will be only 14 days between Ribchester’s gallant second to Persuasive in Ascot’s QEII in soft ground and his Breeders’ Cup assignment, which will almost certainly take place on a fast surface. William Buick will again take the ride.
Fahey is not concerned about the short gap between races. “He has kept his coat, he looks a picture, and clearly, he wants to go,” Fahey said to Godolphin.com. “He has done everything but tell me himself that he should be on the plane to California.
“I’m very happy with him. He’s in great order,” he added.
Ribchester has been described by Fahey as having a remarkable constitution.
“He’s very tough,” he said.
The four-year-old son of Iffraaj goes into his last race with an impressive record of six wins, five seconds and three thirds, from 15 starts. If toughness is one trade mark, consistency is the other.
The Breeders’ Cup in America marks the fourth country in which he will have competed and the 11th G1 race of his career.
The UAE’s Sheikh Ali Al Qassimi didn’t need to think twice about competing in the Gulf Elite Tour, claiming the competition will not only help produce more talented riders but also raise the profile of showjumping in the region.
The inaugural event takes place at Al Habtoor Polo Club Thursday and Friday with approximately 100 riders from the region and around the world set to compete.
Sheikh Ali, 25, is among those to feature in the field while 2012 Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash has confirmed his participation.
Supported by the region’s ruling families and as part of the Emirates Longines League, it gives riders the chance to compete regularly, with this week’s event the first of six, each held monthly, on the calendar.
The competitors will be aiming to win points in their bid to qualify for April’s Grand Prix finale.
Having ridden for more than 15 years in a career that has seen him represent the country at the 2010 Youth Olympics as well as win this year’s Dubai Grand Prix, Sheikh Ali has seen the sport grow hugely, but is convinced the Gulf Elite Tour will take the sport to another level.
“I was engaged with the idea as it’s something new to our sport and it will add value to a sport that I’ve been doing more than 15 years,” said Sheikh Ali, who is one of the ambassadors. “I didn’t really need to think about it (on competing).
“I’ve been around the world and competed at international shows. I could see the potential and the talent of the UAE riders but asked myself why we cannot go and win an Olympic medal? What I realise is we need more exposure and more shows to compete and the Gulf Elite Tour is perfect for that.”
Each leg will not only see a series of contests but a lot of fan activities – something that Sheikh Ali says is crucial for people to gain interest.
“We want to encourage people to take up the sport and not just by watching the horses jumping but enjoy the activities,” he said.
Rosanna Chopra, founder of the Gulf Elite Tour, says there are plans to expand the competition to other countries.
“This year it will all be in the UAE because it’s new. We have had invitations from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and there is an appetite to do it in Singapore and take the tour to Asia,” she said.
WHAT: Gulf Elite Tour
WHERE: Al Habtoor Polo Club
WHEN: Thursday from 16:00 – 21:00, Friday from 11:00 – 23:00