ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region's capital of Erbil was host to a special Kurdistan Flag Day horse racing event on Monday.
Thirty-eight horse riders, known as jockeys, from Kurdistan, Baghdad, and various other parts of Iraq took part in the one-day competition. The horses as well, came from all over, hailing from stables in Erbil, Barzan, Kirkuk, and elsewhere.
The Erbil International Equestrian Club (EIEC) hosted the races to mark Kurdistan Flag Day which falls on Dec. 17.
There were five races in total ranging between 1,200 to 1,650 meters. The winner of each race was awarded a cash prize of $5,000. The winner of the fifth race, called the “Kurdistan Flag Finale,” won a car.
Kurdistan 24 attended the event and spoke to EIEC manager Khalid al-Rashid ahead of the races. Rashid described the occasion as “symbolic.”
“Today is a great day, a symbolic day. As you can see, many people attended the event despite the rainy weather conditions,” he stated. “We organized five separate races today and hope they will be a success.”
One of the attendees, Jamal Jambaz, compared the development and quality of horse racing in the Kurdistan Region to that in the United Arab Emirates.
“When we used to horse race in the past, we used to do so on barren trails. Today, we have top facilities which can be compared to the standards of horse racing in Abu Dhabi,” he told Kurdistan 24.
Located on the Erbil-Massif road, EIEC first opened its doors for riding and jumping lessons in 2011. It is now home to some 90 horses and has held several international jumping competitions.
The racing side of EIEC, called the Kurdistan Jockey Club, started holding races last March.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Evin Hussein)