IFAHR short history|
by and according to Yves Plantin
(this speech was made at the 10th General Meeting, 28th of Jan. 2008 in Paris)
IFAHR first General Meeting took place in January 1999, our Federation is now 9 years old. New members have come, delegates have changed, and of those who attended the first meeting are still with us. Time may have come to briefly recall IFAHR history, which probably most current participants ignore.
For that, we must go back 20 years ago. At that time, two international organizations were dedicated to Arabian horses:
- WAHO in charge of inspection and acceptation of Stud Books
- ECAHO which would unite all European organizations plus associate members like Russia, Middle East and North African countries.
ECAHO members were to have a WAHO accepted stud book, in that regard WAHO and ECAHO had a partnership. ECAHO was run by a council supervising a few commissions. Around 1988 a Racing Commission was created. At that time, the show commission was most important, in front of the Stud book commission. The Race commission would come last, since Arabian racing was rather small in those days. For instance France had 15 races a year, when there are 60 now. I personally attended the Racing Commission meetings from 1992 on, and was appointed Chairman in 1995.
Everything was fine, Arabian racing was slowly getting bigger everywhere in Europe and Middle East, until difficulties occurred. A few horses had been registered by WAHO in a way that would make parentage verification by blood typing impossible. And now, these horses were participating in racing. People started complaining, and they referred to me in my position of Chairman of the Race Commission. This made me realize that we had no actual power, no authority, and that we were stuck between WAHO on one side and the ECAHO Council on the other side. Since these organizations were not concerned with racing, they just could not understand our problems. The more we would complain and the more enemies we would make. After this situation lasted for some time, I finally realize that we had to create an international racing organization that could take its own decisions independently.
In 1998 we had three determining meetings: one in Lisbon, one in Chantilly and the last one in Gotha (Germany). In these steps I was not alone, of course, many individuals supported and helped; Jean Pierre de Gasté, Faisal Seddiq, Hubert Lorenz, Sami Jassem who came to Gotha, Nelly Philippot, Mrs Ratcliff, Princess of Furstemberg, and some other. We soon realized that there was a need for an International Federation, since the last meeting attracted people from all over the world. We started working on our Status which partly copied the Thoroughbred International Federation, and thanks to France Galop we were able to hold our first General Meeting here in January 1999. Eight members were elected to the Executive Committee, among them Sami Jassem al Boenain, Nelly Philippot, Corky Parker (U.S.), Hubert Lorenz as secretary-treasurer, Fayçal Seddiq as vice-Chairman, and me as Chairman.
I guess that the rest of IFAHR history is well known, and it won't be necessary to go through
it in details. Two major changes were to be achieved urgently, at the beginning of IFAHR, in
order to secure the future of Arab racing. The first thing was to close the Stud Books, since all
racing countries had a WAHO accepted Stud Book. Indeed, each new group of horses which
would possibly be admitted could be an opportunity to bring a few horses with no possible
parentage veriiication. Such a situation, which was no serious concern for the show rings,
could be very dangerous in racing. For the same reason, it became necessary that each Stud
Book would implement what was already done in some countries, that is compulsory
parentage verification at birth by blood typing or DNA. Both measures were quickly set by
WAHO and by the different Stud Books after IFAHR was created, since we put up a rule that
only parentage verified horses could participate in racing. Those two improvements alone
showed how our International Federation was already improving Arab racing.
Our presence here today also proves how much our relationship with the thoroughbred world
has developed. We now have a real partnership with those big organizations which rule
horseracing all over the world. In many countries this helped us a lot for our handicapping,
and we have been able to form our Pattern Race Committee with Jean Pierre de Gasté in order
to harnlonize our Group races and have them recognized as Arab Group races by the racing
authorities. In fact, forming IFAHR has been a move away from the traditional Arabian
horses organizations mostly concerned with shows and a step towards the thoroughbred
racing world. This necessary evolution has been achieved and is now irreversible; we will
never go back to the previous situation.
Another target for IFAHR was to bring the recognition level of Arab racing closer to the one
of thoroughbred racing. It was already done in Qatar and the Emirates where horseracing had
started more recently, and also in Turkey and North Africa, but it was not the case in Western
countries because of the long tradition and domination of thoroughbred racing. But there
again, the situation has improved after IFAHR was created. In this field, it is obvious that
France was exemplary, with Prestige Arab races in Chantilly, Deauville and now Longchamp.
But this would not have been possible without the help of sponsors on one side, and the
understanding of France Galop on the other side. For that, we are very grateful to the Emirates
and to Qatar for their generous support, and also to France Galop for their friendly assistance.
This year. for the first time, we will have the Arabian Breeders Cup Classic on the day of the
prestigious Arc de Triomphe, thanks to Qatar generosity, to our vice-chairman Sami Jassim Al Boenain,
to Mr Louis Romanet and to Jean Pierre de Gasté Chairman of AFAC. Seeing all these
achievements gives me a lot of confidence in the future of Arab racing and of our Federation,
and I am sure that you will elect the best possible IFAHR Executive Committee in order to go
on with the objectives that we fixed nine years ago.