Horse club to celebrate Newroz with 'largest horse race ever held in Kurdistan'
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Erbil's horse racing track is holding a huge, six-race event on Tuesday afternoon to honor the start of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.
Horses and jockeys will arrive from across Kurdistan and Iraq to compete in six races for cash prizes totaling 30 million IQD (over $25,000) in front of crowds of onlookers and VIP guests at the Erbil International Equestrian Club (EIEC).
Those who attend the family-friendly and free event will also have a chance to bet money on the races, something new to Kurdistan. Scheduled between 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., the race classes will include local horses, maiden (beginner) horses, and Arabian horses.
"Everyone is excited about the Newroz Cup," EIEC Club Manager Khalid Al Rachid told Kurdistan 24 on Monday, amid a flurry of activity at the facility's offices and stables. "We are so very proud to honor the occasion of Newroz with the largest horse race ever held in Kurdistan."
Located on the Erbil - Massif road, EIEC first opened its doors for riding and jumping lessons in 2011, is 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.
On March 21, Kurds, along with several other cultures and countries in the Middle East and beyond, mark the occasion of Newroz as the first day of spring. It is also the beginning of the year, according to the Kurdish calendar.
It has been observed for thousands of years, and in any part of greater Kurdistan, it is a symbol of freedom and independence.
The United Nations officially recognizes the International Day of Newroz and includes it on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Editing by Nadia Riva