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Trainer Duffield spurs Arabian horse racing’s governing body to do more

Hisham Al Gizouli / 22 September 2012

Top English trainer Gillian Duffield put up a brave face as the Eve Lodge Stables handler opened fire against the UK Arabian horse races governing body.

According to Duffield, though the profile of Arabian Racing has risen considerably since the re-launch of the International Arabian Race Day at Newbury in 2003, the Arabian Racing Organisation did nothing right to take advantage of the strong driving force.

“I think they have a lot of work to do in the light of the tough challenges ahead. I understand that the main focus will remain on Thoroughbred races and in the absence of the media support it will be very difficult for the people to know about Arabian horse races.

“But, still there’s room for creative ideas to push forward the great support the Arabian horses have been receiving from Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance,” she said.

The Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Carnival is doing equally a great job in supporting small breeders and owners, and without such initiatives, the industry would have vanished,” she warned.

“We have only one Purebred Arabian full race card, and all the other events are mixed with the Thoroughbreds. It’s true that racing in mixed cards will give us the chance to be known to the public. But, we haven’t been able to do what we like because of the financial funding issue, and as long as we are not in the public, it is difficult to make progress.

“Arabian horses have the potentials if it is reported by the media. We are struggling to find space in the national newspapers, but they won’t listen. Our races are very exciting and the number of horses taking part is phenomenal, but still it didn’t help. We have to do some work with the satellite channels and the specialised newspapers and magazines to see what they can do for us,” she added.

“We need to improve the speed and have exciting races and good finishes by attracting some runners from abroad and we must be patient with the media before making them listen to us,” she said.

Duffield had earlier this season claimed her first award of HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak for Best Woman Trainer of 2011 during the 25th Anniversary of the Darley Awards in Houston, USA.

The brilliant trainer has started riding racehorses in Arundel Sussex for Gordon Smyth before she joined a riding school and took her BHSAI exams for teaching. She rode show jumping, hunting and cross-country and schooled over hurdles. Later she started training jumpers and then after five years trained Arabian horses.

Duffield sees some challenges with training Arabians. “The difference between training TB’s and Arabians is to try and keep Arabians interested in their work. You must keep their minds right as they are extremely intelligent horses. But the basics apply. Get them fit and keep them happy,” she said.

In 1987, Duffield joined the Shaikh Hamdan Al Maktoum stables in UK and five years later she shifted her operations to the Middle East.

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