Abu Dhabi: The International Federation of Horse Racing Academies, IFHRA, an organization dedicated to the welfare of jockeys and headquartered in Abu Dhabi, held its annual meeting in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
The Federation, whose activities come under the umbrella of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, has a membership of over 50 countries spanning four continents and was started in the year 2015.
The Federation which meets three times an year, decided to dedicate this meeting to concentrate and focus on the role of IFHRA in influencing the status of jockeys all over the world following its successful Racing Scholarship Fund (RSF) programme, under which many youngsters are getting trained in different equestrian-related disciplines, be it riding, stable management and upkeep, horse grooming, among other things. The students are given a scholarship for a brief period to visit a new country, other than their country of origin, to train in their chosen equestrian-related topic.
The “Strategic Planning session” as the Thursday’s event was dubbed, saw discussion from various representatives from different countries throwing up their ideas on how best one could utilise the IFHRA Mentorship programme, which is the brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Countries represented at the meeting included Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Germany, France, Hungary, Morocco, New Zealand, Sultanate of Oman, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians – the Dh. 5 million Group 1 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, which is scheduled to be held at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Friday, November 9, 2018. The day will also feature the Grand Finale of HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony race, HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race and The HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race. Also on the cards are the Festival’s Wathba Stallions Cup For Private Owners Only, a 6-furlong Handicap with a prize fund of Dh 70,000 and the UAE Martyrs Trophy.
The meeting which began with opening remarks by Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), who stated that it was very important to concentrate on the future of the organisat6ion after having learnt from its three years of existence. “His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Festival is concentrating on IFHRA with the knowledge that the future of young jockeys is of utmost importance. At the same time, we need to be more productive contributing for the development of the racing industry.”
Remi Bellocq, General Secretary of IFHRA, who moderated the session, stressed that in order to make the mentorship programme successful, more ideas were needed. While stating that each country had different problems and issues, he threw the floor open for suggestions from member-countries.
At the end of the session, general consensus was arrived on issues like global coaching classes (where teachers/coaches will be sent to different countries), networking between schools and visit different schools, creating regional apprentice programmes, more thought on workforce issues, IFHRA representation at various important race venues, setting up a job bank and looking for good sponsors. Most importantly the countries agreed unanimously that there should be a more stringent process for the selection of apprentices for the funding programme.
It was also decided that the member-countries will put in their ideas in the near future to help the Federation to come out with a “strategic plan” for the future of the organization.
“We are happy with the success of the 2018 mentorship programme. At the same time we need to look into better ideas and avenues to make the programme more successful and also help the apprentices to take the programme seriously. We are formulating new guidelines, which will definitely help in the future of the Federation in general and new apprentices in particular,” Ms Sawaya added.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carrier, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFHRA, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abu Dhabi Youth Council, General Authority for Sports and sponsored by Ayadi LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Nissan Middleast Al Massood Automobiles, Nirvana Travels and Tourism LLC, Equicare Veterinary Services, Alawal Stud, Cavalos Equine Care & Supplies, SET Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Al Awani General Enterprises, Omeir Travels, Kabale, YAS Channel, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohammed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2018, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club and Anantara Hotel.