Sudanese community members are the toast of horse race tracks in the country. In their white attire, a large number of them often throng to watch the exciting horse races held every weekend.

By Staff Report

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Published: Sat 3 Dec 2005, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:09 PM

Other expatriates of different nationalities share with them the views that it is a cathartic experience.

However, before you think of going out to watch a race organised by the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, you should look for two things. The first is a Sudanese friend, and the second an expert in horse racing, which is often a Sudanese too.

A majority of the spectators at the horse race course are Sudanese. They nearly constitute 99.9 per cent of the attendance. The Sudanese living in Abu Dhabi have turned the racetrack into a unique social venue, where families, friends and tribal men of that Afro-Arab country meet.

‘City Times’ met a number of Sudanese at the crowded horse racetrack in Abu Dhabi and elicited their opinions on the event. There is a rare consensus of opinion among them that the racetrack is fantastic place and an opportunity to meet friends and relatives, and to spend a good time in the weekend.

Abdul Monaim Sohail Kareem, a Sudanese, said he had been watching the horse races for more than nine years, and seldom missed the chance when he is on duty.

Most of the Sudanese tribal citizens are fans of horse racing. Prizes offered for winners in the pick of six races attract people. Horse racing is a chance to spend a good time, meet friends and relatives, he said. We bring family members to watch the race and enjoy themselves; he said, adding that it is a free promenade for kids.

The Sudanese watch horse races and vie for winning prizes set by the organising committee, for they have vast experience in horses taking part in the races. Abdul Monaim said there was a group of professionals, who always watch the races, but they also come to enjoy and spend a good time. He said the biggest prize I had won in a horse race was Dh2,000 three years ago.

The number of Sudanese from southern Sudan is few, and most of the Egyptians seen on the track came with their Sudanese friends, but later, they started regularly attending the track. Osama Al Sharif from Sudan echoed the words of Karim saying that expatriates from other countries too now come to attend and watch racing, but the Sudanese still form the majority. Filipinos too have recently started coming to attend the races, and most of them are married with their families. Few Indians, he said, were seen on the track. Expatriates from Levant were also few in numbers, and most of them come to watch the track for fun.

Tiojani Ahmed Taha, the veteran horse racing spectator told ‘City Times’ that he was the most senior spectator. “I had been watching the horse races since 1992, and in order to win the prizes offered to winners, who succeed in choosing the winning horse in each race, you should have vast knowledge on the horses taking part, and the number of races they took part in. Other information about horses include the pedigree, the trainer, the jockeys and the distance as well as the horse, whether it is sprinter, pacer or experienced in long distances, he noted.

Tiojani said: “My experience had helped me win Dh15,000, the grand prize being offered to winners before adjusting the table of prizes set for winners. Now, the prizes are Dh4,000 for the top winner, Dh3,000 for the runners-up, Dh2,000 for the third, Dh1,000 for the fourth, Dh500 for the fifth, while prizes allotted to the sixth winner up to the 25th winner stood at Dh250. The race consists, he said, from six rounds, and to win one of the prizes, you should score the top position in the tri cast (set in order of the winning horses in three races).

Mahjoub Ali said today’s race would not see surprises. Mahjoub seems to like Dubai horse races for one could win a car in a raffle when you buy a Dh10 coupon.

He, however said the main objective of coming to watch horse races was not only winning prizes, but a chance to meet friends and relatives, and spend a good time.

He said he often takes his family members to watch the races. Abdullah Abdul Monaim (14), the youngest spectator, said he was keen on attending the race with his father. In case his father was busy, he would come with his father’s friends. I had been regularly attending the races since I was six years old, he added.

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