Muscat: The fourth Annual Edition of the Al Bashayer Arabian Camel Racing Festival kicks off tomorrow (Monday) at 7 am with the first event, a Two-Year-Old race over 4kms, a taster, an entrée, for almost sixty other events across the remainder of the week, culminating in a Grand Final Afternoon when the crème de la crème of the GCC camel racing bloodstock will compete for outstanding prizemoney, premium motor vehicles, amazing trophies, and of course, the prestige of being the best of the best.
Conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Youth, the event is sponsored by His Highness Sayyid Asaad bin Tariq al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs, and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan, an avid enthusiast of the sport who recently noted that “The Al Bashayer Festival represents the premier sporting, social and cultural values of the Sultanate.”
Khalid Sultan al Junaibi is the on-course announcer for the racing, and prior to each race-day, he will host a studio discussion featuring special guests, officials, owners, breeders, and trainers, where they will discuss the upcoming races and identify likely winners and placegetters. This is no small task as, pending the final announcement of the fields thousands of the region’s fastest racing camels will descend upon the sleepy Wilayat of Adam in search of camel racing glory. Local owners whose colors are expected to be prominent during the week’s racing include Obaid bin Said Aljunaibi, Abdullah bin Tawerish al Wahaibi, and Obaid bin Mohammed al Wahaibi.
The morning races begin at 7 am, and the afternoon races at 2 pm under the stewardship of the Oman Camel Racing Federation, while preparations will be underway well in advance of those timings, and the racing on Monday is for two-year-olds over 4km, Tuesday is for three-year-olds over 5km, Wednesday for four-year-olds over 6km, and the five-year-old and over race at the end of the week on Thursday, in the morning only, over 8km.
While a liberal sprinkling of premier motor vehicles will grace the prize list for the first four days, it is Finals Day, featuring the highest graded camels, will see competition for the Al Bashayer Trophies and Khanjars in the morning. The Grand Finals in the afternoon will see the elite camel athletes compete for a Silver Sword and FJ Cruiser, and a Golden Sword and Toyota Landcruiser.
The Al Bashayer Camel Track, near Adam, in Dakhilyah, will resonate to the pounding hooves of camels loping gracefully at the head of a massive cloud of dust, accompanied by the roar of their escort vehicles circumnavigating the inside of the track, their horns blasting, as the tiny robots, resplendent in the camel owner’s special combination of colors, encourage the camels to run faster with a limited number of padded whip strokes, or to audible encouragement via microphone. It’s all so exciting, so much fun, and if you have never been before, pack the family in the car and check it out!