Qatar and Breeders' Cup target international benefits from sponsorship exchange
By Simon Ward
Qatar has stepped up its presence in international horse racing in a reciprocal partnership with the organisers of USA’s prestigious Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which involves sponsorship of races in the respective countries.
Under the announcement made in London on Wednesday, the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes to be held on 4 November, the second and final day of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup meeting at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in San Diego, California.
Before that, Breeders’ Cup will give its name to the up-and-coming Dukhan Sprint at the H.H. Emir’s Sword Festival, one of the top horse racing events in the Middle East, at the Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha on 23 to 25 February.
The agreement does not involve a financial commitment, but is likely to prompt an increase in the number of horses from USA and Qatar competing in races in each other’s countries, and could pave the way for more high-profile sponsorship deals as the relationship between the racing organisations develops.
Qatar already supports prominent events in other major horse racing markets such as France and the UK, and the QREC sees its new partnership as an opportunity to raise the profile of the country and its pedigree in the sport across the world.
Meanwhile, the Breeders’ Cup views the tie-up as an opportunity to build on its international ventures, including the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which has comprised sponsored races in countries such as France, the UK, Japan and Argentina, amongst others.
QREC general manager Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi said: “Recently we have been interested in building Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, and the name of Qatar also, to raise our sport to a level that is reachable internationally. Qatar is always interested in performing at the best level so being a partner with Breeders’ Cup [will enable us to] take the experience they have worldwide to grow this sprint race to be one of the best in the future.”
Craig Favel, the president and chief executive of Breeders’ Cup, claimed the partnership will enable his organisation to promote its activities in a new territory, saying: “One of the things we’ve been doing in the last number of years is expanding our brand in Europe, as well as around Asia and South America, with the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
“As you know the Breeders’ Cup has long been one of the most prestigious international events so the more international attention and the more international participation we can get all the better.
“Our job is to sell and promote the breeding industry and thoroughbred racing and growing the sport in Qatar is a big part of that and we couldn’t be more excited about this partnership.”
Al Kaabi admitted that promoting its horse racing internationally formed part of efforts to make Qatar a visitor destination as it prepares to host other major sports events such as the Fifa World Cup in 2022.
He said: “It’s all about getting people interested in the whole picture, not just racing, and it [Qatar] is now a major tourist hub.”
Major overseas horse racing events already supported by the country include the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France and the QIPCO British Champions Series.