Purebred Arabian (PA) racing began in the UK in 1978 as an amateur sport with the guidance and permission of the Jockey Club.
In 1999 it was established as the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO), under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and runs within the rules and regulations of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) for Arabian racing.
The UK was one of the founding members of the International Federation of Arabian Horseracing Authorities (IFAHR), who also maintain the International Classification system to assist global competition.
ARO is the sole authority for Arabian racing in the UK and holds an average of 40 races per season on Thoroughbred fixtures from spring through to autumn. In the UK, Arabian racehorses may compete in maidens, handicaps and conditions races, with Group (Pattern) races open to international runners.
Arabian racing takes place in 32 countries worldwide, all year round. Countries including France, America and the Gulf States have had a full programme of Arabian racing integrated with Thoroughbred racing for many years. Some of the most prestigious Group 1 Purebred Arabian (PA) races take place on high profile international Thoroughbred fixtures. The UK Arabian Derby is held at Doncaster on St Leger Day, the Qatar Arabian World Cup is on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day at ParisLongchamp and the Kahayla Classic takes place on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan. The most valuable Arabian race in the UK is the Qatar International Stakes run at Goodwood as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Integration with British Racing
Currently the fixture list and regulations of Purebred Arabian (PA) racing are approved by the BHA, with the BHA also providing integrity services for any Purebred Arabian races on thoroughbred cards and for premier Purebred Arabian standalone fixtures.
However, in December 2019 it was announced that Purebred Arabian racing would become more integrated into British racing. This is to further align the regulatory practices of Purebred Arabian racing with thoroughbred racing.
A phased implementation is now underway which is funded by ARO with help from the Racing Foundation.
This commitment by the BHA and ARO will see further integration of regulatory procedures which may include areas such as more closely aligning the licensing requirements of ARO stable yards with those under Rules, harmonisation of ARO Regulations with the Rules of Racing and the alignment of other raceday regulatory functions.
For further information, please see the latest announcements:
December 2019: Purebred Arabian racing to be integrated further into British racing from 2020
December 2020: Further Integration of Purebred Arabian Racing with British Racing from 2021
Only purebred Arabian horses, registered with ARO are eligible to participate in Arabian races. All horses running in Arabian races must have been issued with a passport and be microchipped. Vaccination records need to be maintained and be up to date in accordance with the BHA Regulations for Arabian horseracing. Arabian horses are only able to begin their racing career in the UK from three years of age.
Existing ARO (legacy) trainers who wish to continue training only Purebred Arabian horses in 2022, should apply to ARO for a licence. Licences must be renewed annually and are valid from 1st January to 31st December inclusive. Those wishing to apply for a BHA licence in 2022 will be assisted in this process and should contact the ARO office for further details.
New Purebred Arabian trainers wishing to train in 2021 should also apply to the ARO office and will use 2022 to work towards fulfilling all the requirements of the BHA licensing process for 2023.
Existing BHA licensed trainers (Flat and Combined) are able to train both Purebred Arabian (PA) and Thoroughbred horses from their current licensed premises.
Owners must be at least 16 years old and be registered annually with ARO; an owner is bound by the BHA Regulations for Arabian horseracing. All horses must be registered in the correct ownership with the Arab Horse Society to be eligible to run under ARO rules.
To be eligible to ride in Arabian races, all jockeys must either be professionals or hold a Category ‘A’ or ‘B’ amateur licence with the BHA or equivalent recognised racing authority. Professional and Amateur jockeys are able to ride against one another in Arabian Races.
The full fixture list for Arabian Racing can be found here.
There will be no change to the administration of Arabian racing in 2022, which will continue to be administered by ARO. ARO will provide the BHA and Weatherbys with all appropriate data relating to trainers, horses, stable staff and owners as and when appropriate or required.
For further information on all aspects of Arabian racing in the UK, including rules and regulations, sourcing and registering horses, race plans and conditions, please contact the ARO Racing Manager Willie McFarland at [email protected] or visit www.aroracing.co.uk.