Qatar Airways has entered into a partnership with The Curragh, Irish horse racing’s preeminent flat racecourse and home to the Irish Derby.
Under the terms of the agreement - which was facilitated by Kilfrush Stud owner and Qatari-native Mubarak Al Naemi - a Qatar-themed race day will take place on 20th August, which will include the inaugural Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club Curragh Stakes, while the Group Two Qatar Airways Sapphire stakes will take place on 15th July with total prize of €120,000 (US$134,000).
The partnership comes a week after the airline staged its first flight from Doha to Dublin, while it has also been named as the official airline partner of the 2017 Dublin Horse Show. A statement from the carrier said that the sponsorship show a “further commitment to Ireland through the Irish and Qatari [shared] affinity for horses”.
The burgeoning connection with Ireland will be a shot in the arm for the Qatar after several Gulf states - including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt - recently cut off diplomatic relations with the sovereign state, accusing it of funding terrorism and manipulating internal affairs of its neighbouring territories.
Neither the financial terms nor the duration of the contract with the County Kildare racecourse have been released.
“The Curragh is delighted to have the opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading airlines at a very important time for the racecourse to develop key partnerships with premium global brands,” said Evan Arkwright, commercial manager of The Curragh. “I would like to thank Mr Al Naemi for helping to facilitate this initiative, which will further strengthen and enhance the important links we have with the Gulf region.”
The Curragh is home to all five of Irish flat racing’s classics - the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, the Oaks and the St Leger - and a total of Group One races.