Bahrain boosts opportunities for international runners with new turf series

Horse Racing Simsir Bahrain International Trophy
Simsir (far side) holds off Global Giant and Sovereign in the 2020 Bahrain International Trophy, which will precede a new series of international races. Photo: Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club

By Jon Lees

Bahrain: Bahrain is expanding its programme of races for international participants with the launch of a brand new series of turf races.

The Bahrain Turf Series, which will run from December this year to February 2022, will be comprised of ten £50,000 races and are framed for international horses rated 85-100. Another £50,000 will be shared among the owners and trainers of the leading horses in the series.

The new races are being introduced by the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club in addition to the more established Bahrain International Trophy which will take place for the third time at Sakhir racecourse on November 19

The race has attracted high-quality international entries in its first two years, including five individual G1 winners in 2020. Last year’s race was won by the locally-trained Simsir who just edged out Global Giant (John Gosden) and Sovereign (Aidan O’Brien).

The race is open to horses rated over 95 and is run over a distance of 2000m (1m2f). Automatic invitations will be issued to the winners of the Royal Whip at the Curragh on August 3, Strensall Stakes (York, Aug 21) and Darley Stakes (Newmarket, Oct 9).

Shaikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, chairman of the Rashid Equestrian and Horse Racing Club High Committee, said: “I am very proud of the Bahrain International Trophy. We have hosted the race for two years and we will be hosting it again in 2021 for the third time having seen a huge jump in the quality of horses and participants in year two.

“By introducing the new Bahrain Turf Series we hope to further attract great horses to the Kingdom of Bahrain, horses that can add a higher quality of performance to our two most prestigious races, His Majesty the King’s Cup and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s Cup.

He added: “My own personal goal is to develop the industry of thoroughbred horse racing in the Kingdom of Bahrain and if we are able to facilitate our Bahraini trainers and jockey’s relationships with European connections that will be one of my key goals met.”

John Gosden runners have finished second in both editions of the Trophy and his son Thady, who now trains in partnership with his father, said they expect to send more runners.

“Having taken horses to the inaugural, and second running of the Bahrain International Trophy, the race remains firmly as a target.,” he said.

“The training and quarantine facilities in Bahrain are world-class, and constantly being improved. The racecourse is also well-suited to the European style of racing, and we would not hesitate to take the right horses there in the future.”

Frankie Dettori has been riding in Bahrain for over five years and has had plenty of success there including four Crown Prince’s Cups. He finished second on Global Giant in the 2020 Bahrain International Trophy for Shaikh Isa.

Speaking about his time in Bahrain, Dettori said: “It is a joy to ride in Bahrain. It is probably one of the best turf courses in the Middle East. His Highness Shaikh Isa has done a fantastic job in creating the Bahrain International Trophy, which has already attracted some incredible horses. It is a very exciting time for horse racing in Bahrain.”

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