Fin Powrie

published: 19 Sep 2014 in Q&A

It is not widely known that racing began in Bahrain – a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf – has a history dating back to 1948.

 Over the years since, as Dubai and other desert regions have come to international racing prominence, Bahrain has tended to languish behind.

However, a High Committee headed by chairman Sheikh Rashid Bin Isa Al Khalifa is intent in developing a vibrant racing industry in the island state.

As part of this plan Western Australian Fin Powrie has been appointed as chief racing administrator of the Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club.

With the likelihood of Bahrain becoming a global racing industry player Stallions, in the first of a highly interesting three-part series, questioned Fin about the Club’s visions, its history, the racing season, where race horse talent will come from and other matters.

 

Q.: What is the Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club’s immediate objective

A.: It is the vision of Sheikh Isa to increase the level of high quality competition based on the principles of integrity, fair play and entertainment for both the community and visitors to the kingdom.

 

Q.: How long gas the Rashid Equestrian & Horse Club been operating

A.: Horses have always been part of Bahrain’s culture. A unique collection of pure-bred Arabian horses has been preserved on the island for over 200 years by the rulers of the country, the Al Khalifa family. In 1948 racing was organized with a tote facility. In 1977 the Amir of Bahrain established the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club as the only racing Club in Bahrain. It administers all aspects of control of the sport. The Club has two turf tracks measuring about 2400m with straights of 1200m, a sand track for training and a grandstand with a seating capacity of over 3,000 racegoers. Meetings attract around 2,500 but on Kings Cup Day the crowd swells to 5,000 as the Ruler of Bahrain. His Majesty the King of Bahrain and the members of the Royal family have been importing quality bloodstock to improve the local thoroughbred breed. Whilst horses have been a way of life for centuries in the Middle East horse racing of a style known around the world has only risen to prominence in the last 30 years. Dubai is the biggest and most high profile racing precinct in the Gulf region but racing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar is popular and countries such as Oman and Kuwait have vibrant equestrian clubs with developing racing industries. Bahrain is on the cusp of a surge which is designed to provide quality racing based on best practices and new technology to the people for their involvement and pleasure. We, in Bahrain, have embarked on a renaissance with major revamping of tracks, stables and the racecourse facilities. The integration of riding clubs and other equestrian pursuits will follow as Bahrain drives ahead for a prominent place within the world’s racing and equestrian administration.

 

Q.: How long does the racing season run

A.: The Bahrain racing season runs from November through until late April. Currently we are racing only on the holy day of Friday and we conduct 26 meetings.

 

Q.: Where are the race horses being secured from

A.: The horses in Bahrain race in three categories. There are Purebred Arabians, which are the purest of all given Bahrain’s island status.  Then there are the imported thoroughbreds, which come primarily from Europe and are mostly horses, which have raced. The third category is that of the local bred thoroughbred, which have been bred in Bahrain from imported stock. There are some very well bred horses and a good local bred can easily compete on level terms with the imported stock.

 

Q.: What facilities have been constructed

A.: Currently the Club is at a re-birthing stage. We have plans to develop and extend all horse facilities such as stabling and veterinary clinics. We will also be adding new amenities for the horse based on the latest technologies.  We have already commenced work on refurbishment of the existing grass tracks and irrigation systems and all training facilities will be upgraded. In phases we will renovate the grandstand and structure it to accommodate the changed profile of the Club’s patronage. One area which has already been addressed is the administrative structure and we have employed several high profile racing professionals from Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new era is beginning in racing in Bahrain.

A small island on the western shores of the Persian Gulf Bahrain has been conducting racing for more than 60 years but very much on a low key basis.

Now the Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club, which was founded in 1977, is intent on establishing Bahrain as an international racing renowned centre.

A High Committee of the Club chaired by Sheikh Rashid Bin Isa Al Khalifa is seeking, as he says, to “develop a vibrant racing industry, based on the principles of integrity, fair play and entertainment both for the community and for visitors to the kingdom.”

As an integral part of this plan Western Australian Fin Powrie – a man with vast experience in racing administration – has been appointed as the Club’s chief racing administrator.

In the second of a highly interesting three-part series Stallions questioned Fin about the project, liaising with other authorities in the region, his appointment and his career.

 

Q.: Lifting the profile of racing in Bahrain seems a very exciting project

A.: Needless to say the entire project is very exciting and is being brought together by the High Committee under the direction of Chairman of the Rashid Equine & Horse Racing Club, HH Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa and Vice-Chairman HH Sheikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is the grandson of the King of Bahrain. In essence the desire to bring Bahrain forward as a global racing participant is very strong and will ensure success. The first phase of this long-term plan is already under way with improvements being made to the Club’s facilities and the construction of new stabling.

 

 

Q.: Will you be liaising with other racing authorities in the region

A.: I have had a great deal of contact with many of the racing administrators throughout the world already and have received support from Dubai-related people to assist in training the Club’s staff. The Singapore Turf Club is providing important assistance by allowing us to utilize their barrier stall professionals to train our staff. The Rashid Equestrian &  Horse Racing Club is committed to proper principles of integrity and propriety in all aspects of racing and will be represented at international forums and conferences, taking an active part in administrative bodies which are pivotal to the proper administration of racing.

 

Q.: How did your appointment come about

A.: I have always had a good relationship with Bahrain racing and the Club was looking for someone to bring together a project of improvement. After spending a short time in Bahrain during Ramadan this year and meeting with HH Sheikh Isa I was appointed as and returned to Bahrain to live three weeks later.

 

Q.: You seem to have a penchant for being on the “ground floor” of racing developments.

A.: I suppose this has come about through my early years of stewarding in the north west of Western Australia. During that period I spent a lot of time at small racecourses, which had not really changed for decades and simply raced during their yearly season in the same mode year-after-year. I wrote a lot of plans and structures for these clubs in the hope they could improve efficiency and have better race meetings with better planning, albeit with meager budgets. This was probably the seed that grew within, which made me want to try and improve racing venues and club structures. To stand in the paddock (mounting enclosure) on the first night of the Dubai International Racing Carnival with the flags of 16 invited countries flying was a wonderful moment. скрытая манипуляция мужчиной So too were the many times I was present when a “one day a year” committeeman proudly revealed a new bookmakers stand, welded from gas pipe, or a new swabbing box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a program aimed at lifting the profile of racing  in Bahrain – a small island in the Persian Gulf – to an international level begins unfolding Western Australian Fin Powrie has taken up a post as chief racing administrator of the kingdom’s Rashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club.

In this capacity Fin will be spearheading a new era for the Club under High Committee chairman Sheikh Rashid Bin Isa Al Khalifa and vice chairman Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a grandson of the King of Bahrain.

Fin has a distinguished background being chairman of stewards in Western Australia until 2001 when he was appointed as the Emirates Racing Association’s chief steward In July of 2003 he was appointed as the E.R.A.’s director of racing. He combined those roles until August of 2006.

He subsequently spent just over a year as general manager of integrity for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and then he was appointed as racing advisor for the Bangalore Turf Club in India.

In light of his new role in Bahrain Stallions, in the third part of a highly interesting three-part piece, questioned Fin about his various postings, his experiences, his travels and his interests in life.

 

Q.: What have you enjoyed most about the roles you have filled

A.: Each role I have filled has brought about its own special fulfillment. In Perth it was probably the retrospective appraisal that our efforts as a stewards panel brought about a turnaround in integrity in Western Australian racing, which had bottomed in the mid 1980s. Of course, when you are backed up by stewards such as Ian Paterson and John Zuzal, who between them have been active in seven countries as stewards or administrators, it is made much easier. The panel members also included Gerard Bush and Peter Chadwich, who became chairmen of stewards in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. Of course the massive upsurge of interest in Dubai and its racing was magic and allowed me to be creative whilst establishing basic principles as the state’s first professional fulltime steward. In India the enjoyment was more abstract and probably defined best by the wonderful culture and raw passion of many of the participants in racing. In New Zealand a most enjoyable aspect was being able to represent the country as Chair of the First International Stewards Conference at the 31st Asian Racing Conference. Some of the lesser, hard times, have been offset by seeing the passion that the pure racing interest displays throughout the world . . . irrespective of nationality or culture.

 

Q.: How has this contributed to your experience

A.: I think anyone who believes they know everything about racing is simply deluded. I have been very lucky to have had exposure to the world’s very best racing minds whether it be administrators, owners, trainers or jockeys. Like all subjects opinions differ and to be involved in discussions and, often, arguments which span hemispheres of racing is very educational. I have had the great fortune to sit with the legendary Vincent O’Brien in his twilight years on his passage through Dubai each year but I have also learned from a Rajastani syce (strapper) how to tie a tongue tie. I think experience has taught me that racing means different things to different things to different people.

 

Q.: What have you learned from your travels

A.: I suppose I have learnt that there has come about the propensity to refer to racing and horses as a “product”. I am not naïve enough to fail to realize that racing and the associated horse services combine to make the industry big business. However, in a  country that has on its $10 note an image from a poem which starts with a breeding reference “… the colt from old Regret had got away” and then goes on to tell how one of the stockmen “…won his pile when Pardon won the Cup” it is somewhat galling that ex-politicians and new-breed administrators show no passion when referring to our horses as a “product”. The roulette wheel is a “product:”, a lotto dispensing machine is a “product” but the unbeaten dual hemisphere of Black Caviar, the triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva or depressions savior Phar Lap as “products” ?. . . I don’t think so. Try justifying that to a strapper, who has a tear of joy when a horse they have nursed for a year runs second. From my experience no one has a tear of joy when their lottery numbers miss by one or the roulette ball lands on a number next to theirs. Racing is a passion of the horse and that keeps the industry the wonderful sport that it is ands that should always be remembered.

 

Q.: Over the years have you had the opportunity to develop interest of hobbies outside the racing industry

A.: Horses are my passion and also my life. My wife Gwenda and I have always had horses for pleasure in Perth where we have evented and show jumped. When in Dubai our sons developed the bug and took up polo. We conducted the Gulf’s first one day event at the Desert Palm Polo Club in 2003. Our boys are very involved in the horse racing and racing industry in Western Australia with David, 23, have a good sized stable of breakers at Bunbury and James, 20, being in his final year of master farriers degree. For the record I don’t play golf.

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