The Qatar Arabian World Cup first saw the light of day in 2008 and it rejoices in the role of being the Arc de Triomphe for Purebred Arabians (PA). The use of World Cup in the title is very appropriate in view of the fact that it has attracted runners from a myriad of different countries: Qatar, the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, Morocco, Turkey and Great Britain – without forgetting France.
Purebred Arabians are avid travellers. The top races for the breed take place on the European stage from the spring to the autumn, before the focus changes to the Gulf States during the winter. Two stables have dominated for the last ten years. We are referring to the readily identifiable blue with white stars silks of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani, and the dark red and white spotted colours of his brother Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani. Between them, they have annexed six editions of the Qatar Arabian World Cup – with the former owner having inched marginally in front thanks to the 2017 triumph of Gazwan. However, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani will be pinning his hopes on Ebraz. The winner of The Emir’s Sword in the winter, which is Qatar’s most prestigious prize, Ebraz also landed The Qatar International Stakes at Goodwood during the summer.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, on the other hand, will be counting on Yazeed, Tayf and Marid. A son of the high-class PA racemare Al Dahma, Yazeed was second to Gazwan in the 2017 edition of The Qatar Arabian World Cup. Tayf boasts a win in the 2017 Qatar International Stakes, plus a second in the same race this year, whereas the younger Marid hails from the French yard of Antoine de Watrigant.
Ebraz, Yazeed and Tayf spend the winter in Qatar before jetting off to France at the end of the spring. For France has forged the reputation as the nursery of the breed, as the owners have set up their breeding operations there.
The Qatar Arabian World Cup is a race with a real international aura, as it has attracted runners from France and Qatar, of course, in addition to British and Polish raiders. Lest it be forgotten, it was a Polish horse in Saudi Arabian ownership, which annexed the 2019 edition of the race.
Common to the trends that we have come to expect in the English thoroughbred world, the number of races with seven-figure prizes are increasing. The Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr1 PA) carries a purse of a million euros, whereas The H.H The Amir Sword (Gr1 PA) carries prize money worth $1 million, as does The Dubai Kahayla Classic (Gr1 PA)
which adorns The Dubai World Cup (Gr1 PA) card. Fast forwarding to November, the Abu Dhabi feature, The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (Gr1 PA), is worth the equivalent of 1,25 million euros. The organisers of the Saudi Cup race day also recently announced the creation of an international dirt race for PA horses over 10 furlongs. It will carry a purse of $1.9m and will be open to PA horses aged four and above.