Horses have always been part of Bahraini culture. A unique collection of pure-bred Arabian horses has been preserved on the island for over 200 years by the rulers of Bahrain, the Al Khalifa family, and the most recently by His Majesty the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Who relocated the stud to its present site at Rowtha’t Alghar to ensure the protection and the integrity of their breeding program. The stud presently consists of 312 registered horses, 20 of which are stud stallions, which are registered under the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO).
Racing was conducted originally as private meetings and all horses were pure Arabians.
In 1948 a committee was formed to have horse racing conducted under one umbrella. Racing was then organized with a tote facility to meet the international standards. With the support of the Royal family racing prospered and in 1977 the Amir of Bahrain issued a decree to establish the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club to be the only racing authority in Bahrain. The Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club is recognized and accepted internationally as the governing body for horse racing in Bahrain. It administer all aspects of the sport, including the Rules of Racing, the registration of horses for racing, as well as the licensing of jockeys, officials and stable personnel and administers the international approved Stud Book. Also it takes an active part in international racing activities and as a member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and the Asian Racing Federation. With the establishing the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club and keen interest and support of the royal family and the people of Bahrain, racing prospered from a small track and stand with modest facilities in Manama (The Capital), racing shifted to Riffa and then to the present sight in Riffa in 1981.
Two Turf tracks measuring about 2400 meters with a straight of 1200 meters and one sand track for training, grand stand with a seating capacity of over 3000, stables for 300 horses were constructed in 1981. Bahrain can now boast of having the finest grass tracks and grand stand in the Middle East.
The racing season starts in October and ends in April each year. About 300 horses participate. It takes place one day a week with six races a day with an average field of 9 runners. Five races are formed for thoroughbreds and one for Arabians; forty percent of the races are reserved for imported thoroughbreds, forty five percent for local thoroughbreds and fifteen percent for the Arabians.
His Majesty the King of Bahrain and the members of the Royal family have been importing quality bloodstock to improve the local thoroughbreds. More and more Bahraini nationals are also breeding thoroughbreds. The aim is to race with local bred thoroughbreds in larger numbers.
It should be noted that the enhanced popularity and status of this sport in the GCC countries as a whole, which has a long and rich tradition of horse racing. It would have a cascading effect on investments in this sport by encouraging existing owners as well as attracting new owners to invest in the racing.