© 2017. All rights reserved. Aly Vance | Presenter & Journalist | Great Britain

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March 31, 2017

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Middle East March

March 31, 2017

This February and March, over the space of 5 weeks I did Qatar once and Dubai twice. All the trips were to cover horse racing for both CNN & Attheraces (UK racing channel).  Here are some of the highlights: 

 

Qatar’s Emir’s Sword festival

 

 

In the UK, we're familiar with the colours of Qatar racing and Al Shaqab racing and we know the extent of the Qatari investment though it’s major race sponsorship (Prix de l’arc de Trumph & Goodwood festival) but what about the racing industry in Qatar itself? I’ve went to the 3 day Emir's Sword Festival – the highlight of their racing calendar. Running for 26 years it combines arabian and thoroughbred racing and this year it attracted 26 international runners. Below is the feature that was produced for Attheraces.

 

 

Travel details: 

Hotel - St Regis Doha (A fabulous hotel with a 50m outdoor pool, super gym and loads of on-site restaurants & bars.)

Favourite restaurant - Hakkasan at the St Regis hotel (Gorgeous surroundings & the best food. Having never been to another Hakkasan restaurant, so I was v impressed!) 

What to do - Visit the Falcon Hospital in the Souq Waqif. (You can see through the window into the Falcon operating room...bizarre!)  

 

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Dubai for Super Saturday

 

This was a whistle-stop visit to the Emirate for CNN's Winning Post, which in March was a preview show for the Dubai World Cup.  As part of the programme, we went camel racing one morning in the desert. Incredible. Just look at the video below of the fleet of cars which drive alongside the camels enabling owners to dictate the speed of the robot's whip. 

 

 

This was definitely a highlight but from a racing point of view my trip to Zabeel stables was fab. One of the most exclusive stables in the world, Satish Seemar was very kind to give us a guided tour of the facilities which included a air conditioned luxury stables, outdoor paddocks, 100m equine swimming pool, a 9 furlong racetrack, equine spa, treadmill etc etc. If I reincarnate as a racehorse then please can i live at Zabeel? 

 

 

Here is March's episode of CNN Winning Post: 

 

http://edition.cnn.com/videos/sports/2017/03/17/spc-winning-post-march-2017.cnn/video/playlists/winning-post/

 

 

Travel details: 

Hotel - Holiday Inn Express (Central location & a good base but very basic as you'd expect with a tiny gym and no pool) 

Favourite restaurant - Seaview (Pretty restaurant in a small harbour. Great menu which specalises in fish. Super lunch spot on a sunny day) 

What to do - Go camel racing!  We went to Umm Al Quwain track at Al Libsah.

 

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Dubai World Cup 

I was asked by Meydan to host the inaugural His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Awards for Racing Excellence. These were held on the Thursday before Saturday's World Cup Night. Racing connections from around the world were there as well as many members of the Royal family so it was a pretty big deal! We had two days of rehearsals to iron everything out so it all went pretty smoothly on the night (I think!). Here are some piccie's:

 

 

 

On World Cup Night itself I interviewed HH Sheikh Mohammad himself. A very surreal experience! 

 

 

 

Travel details: 

Hotel - Ritz Carlton in DIFC (5* hotel with wonderful service but have to catch taxi's to the areas you might want to go out in) 

Favourite restaurant - Totally unadventurous this trip as I worked late every night! 

What to do - Get a facial at Avada Spa.(I had the most luxurious 45 minutes and very reasonable price. As the article says, it's like being in a rainforest which I is pretty unusual in Dubai!)

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