Warsaw, Poland was the destination for participants for the World Arabian Racing Conference from May 28 – 31. Arabian racing is spread over the globe, and the conference was a truly international affair with 400 delegates from 80 countries participating in a rousing three days of conference sessions, industry meetings and gala dinners and culminating in a thrilling day of racing at the stunning Sluzewiec race course on the outskirts of Warsaw. Canada was well represented at the conference by Theresa Sealy, Race Track Programs coordinator from Olds College and Corinne Andros, a graduate of the Olds College Exercise Rider program and apprentice jockey currently riding at Woodbine in Ontario.
The conference in Poland was one of the stops on the annual tour of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Festival. His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and he has given overwhelming support to the purebred Arabian horse. The Festival aims to promote and enhance Arabian flat racing all over the world with a unique series of races for purebred Arabians with 14 stops on 6 continents from January to October, with the grand finale of the Festival and the finals of the races taking place in Abu Dhabi in November.
HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival sponsors high quality Arabian races to support the breed, but the Festival offers much more for racing enthusiasts. All of the delegates attend the conference on behalf of the Festival, with all travel arrangements included in the invitation. The conference brings together experts from the racing industry to discuss issues, highlight innovations and find solutions to some common problems. The conference in Warsaw had sessions on Breeding, Racing and Training practices, Weight Loss Control for jockeys and riders, Rules and Regulations standards in different jurisdictions, Women in Racing, Media and Communications and the Future of Arabian Racing. Some sessions were very heated, and all provided extensive discussions and exchanges about flat racing for Arabians and other racing breeds.
In addition to the conference, HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival has created a series of races specifically for women jockeys and apprentice jockeys. The HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship is a thirteen race series with races in Oman, Australia, USA, Switzerland, Morocco, France, UK, Poland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Belgium. Professional and Amateur women jockeys are invited to participate in the series which was designed to boost their international riding experiences and recognize and celebrate women jockeys. The HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship was designed to not only give apprentice jockeys international riding skills, but expose them to the Arabian racehorse. Apprentice jockeys are invited from 32 countries to ride in races in USA, Poland, UK, Tatarstan, Netherlands, France and Brazil. For the apprentice jockeys this is an occasion to showcase their riding skills and network with trainers, owners and racing industry officials from around the world.
Corinne Andros was thrilled to accept the invitation to ride in the apprentice riders race in Poland, and made her way from Woodbine in Ontario with her racing tack in hand. With 300 rides and 36 wins to date, Corinne was the third winningest rider in the race and one of three women. Corinne drew Etnum Psyche, a ten year old grey gelding and had to receive her riding instructions through a translator for the 2,000 meter long race. Corinne rode an outstanding race, leading for most of the way and working hard to get her horse to settle into a relaxed pace. She showed excellent race riding skills, but Etnum Psyche didn’t have the staying power in the final 200 meters and faded to fifth. The owner and trainer were very pleased with the effort, and Corinne was a stellar representative for Canada’s apprentice jockey colony.
In November, 2014, the Sheikh Mansoor Festival provided the financial support for the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies, which has grown to include 32 countries and 14 racing schools. Theresa Sealy represents Canada, and sits on the Academic Committee which provides the direction for best practices and academic requirements for horse racing schools. The International Federation of Horse Racing Academies unveiled an innovative Racing Scholarship Fund in the amount of US $100,000 and is expected to initially benefit between 10-20 racing school graduates to spend around two months each with reputed mentors at their chosen host country. The concept is based on providing students with valuable continuing educational opportunities in the event they choose a new path within horse racing and related industries.
Participating in the World Arabian Racing Conference in Warsaw and the races at Sluzewiec race course provided the Canadian delegates three days of educational sessions, inspiring discussions, profitable meetings, new friends from around the world, the thrill of the races and great memories which will remain with Theresa and Corinne for their lives. Both are looking forward to the Festival finals in Abu Dhabi on November.