Dubai: The chairman of the well-established Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR) has described the qualifying series as “exciting times” for Purebred Arabian racing as the countdown continues to gather pace ahead of the much-anticipated launch on Sunday at the historic Capannelle Racecourse in Rome.

The series, which features 17 races spread across four countries and takes place in Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the UK, hopes to qualify the best Arabian race horses from across Europe to compete in the sport’s flagship event at Newbury Racecourse in the UK on July 28.

All races will be run under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, one of the world’s most powerful and influential racehorse owners and breeders.

The DIAR was created by Shaikh Hamdan in 2003 as a platform to showcase the Purebred Arabian racecourse and offers owners and breeders the opportunity to compete at the highest level. This qualifying series includes six stakes races and eight international races.

Mirza Al Sayegh, spokesperson for the DIAR programme who has been the driving force behind its growth from humble beginnings at Kempton Park Racecourse in the early days to becoming one of the most highly anticipated race days for Arabian horses, said: “In previous years, we have been delighted to welcome many international runners at Newbury in July, for our final race day, and we are grateful to all the connections of those horses who have made the journey.

“The eight Arabian races were incredibly competitive and we witnessed high quality racing. It was a great day for the sport. Olivier Peslier, one of the best French jockeys, rode the winners of the four Group races. Furthermore, two winners earned a DIAR bonus: they had finished placed in a preparation race earlier in the year and won one of the Bonus Races at Newbury,”

Al Sayegh also highlighted the role played by countries and racecourses who are involved in the promotion of Purebred Arabian racing. “This race programme can only be achieved thanks to our team and partners, including the racing authorities from Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the UK,” he said.

“We are very grateful for their support and help in promoting our race programme and our showpiece at Newbury, which is now established as one of the best and most prestigious days of Arabian racing anywhere in the world.

“In 2019, this event will be held on Sunday, July 28 and will feature a total of five Group and International level races, including three Group One Purebred Arabian races. “We are delighted to announce the renewal of the travel allowances for international runners competing in the races at Newbury on July 28 and the renewal of the DIAR bonus prize fund for 2019.”

Through the international programme of Arabian Shaikh Hamdan also aims to educate more people about the Arabian breed, the sport of Arabian horse racing and the Arabic culture that underpins it.