Qatari Sheikh Hope Champions Day gives students a taste of the course

Sheikh Fahad Al-thani, the driving force behind the British Champions at Ascot, was a student when he fell in love with racing and it is the students who will see him and his brothers become the blood of the sport, Qatar Racing manager David Redvers told AFP.

Around 26,000 spectators – including 600 students who pay 15 pounds ($17) – are expected to watch the Champions League on Saturday as Baaeed headline a bid to end their unbeaten career with 11 career wins.

That’s a far cry from the 32,000 who were in arms when another horse Frankel bowed out in 2012 with his 14th win in 14 races.

The number of students is well down on the 3,000 who attended in the past and while speaking straight Redvers praises the work done by Great British Racing – the current official marketing and promotion body – he admits “more could be done” to boost figures.

The crowd will be bigger than the crowd at Europe’s most prestigious race, the Prix de Arce Triomphe, earlier this month – estimated at between 22,000 to 25,000 – which Redvers says is “fantastic”.

“It’s still not enough,” he told AFP at the annual sales in New Market.

“We have to innovate as much as we can.

“The most valid argument going is there is nowhere else you see so many high class horses.

“We have to get the message out there a little better

– ‘Traumatic period’ –

Encouraging students to get involved in running seems to be ever more urgent with the number of people taking up courses – the figures were down 27 per cent compared to August last year.

Redvers says it is the “heart of faith” for Sheikh Fahad and his brothers that is why the Qatar Investment and Project Development Holdings Company (QIPCO) followed up Champions Day with the inaugural meeting in 2011.

“Sheikh Fahad was a student in London and when he turned on the television and watched the race he got hooked, thank God for us,” Redvers said.

“He loved the crackling, he loved history and complicated puzzles.

“When we are students, that is the time when people’s most fertile minds are open to ideas and concepts.

“So our role is to seed and attract those who are not already involved because of the family connection.

“Attracting young people it seems so blinkingly obvious why we should be fans of them.”

Sheikh Fahad went from being a student to sitting next to the late Queen Elizabeth II when he told AFP that he was “allowed to shout” his Roaring Lion star home to win a race named in her honor on Champions Day 2018.

Redvers admits that he could loosely be called a student – his only study was fitting for him, whose father was an Art History specialist – when he fell in love with her while working in a studio in rural Australia.

But for those students who fall in love with horse racing, Redvers serves as a salutary reminder that school also knocks hard.

In the early 20’s he got into serious financial difficulty when he could not sell the shares of horses he had bought.

He even sat outside his house one day brandishing a gun debating whether to shoot one finger that carried a ten thousand pound insurance policy if he lost a finger in an accident.

He decided against it when he realized that the pay would be a mere drop in the ocean.

“Luckily there are some incredibly kind people in this industry who have helped me through that traumatic time.

“My journey when I think about it is amazing but when you get into that ring and look at the people who are doing it well, the people who are the most dangerous for us.

There are degrees of skill in choosing a champion, but luck is a greater degree.

“Do I feel that way? No, because people are always kicking you, but I’m incredibly lucky to be doing what I love.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *