By Gabriel Harrison.
Tunis, 16 September 2017:
The first of a five-week series of horse races began yesterday at Tripoli’s Busetta race course. Known as “The Libya Peace Cup” they have been organised by the Libyan Horse Racing Authority and sponsored by the General Authority for Culture.
The races will continue at 4pm every Friday for the next four weeks. Yesterday’s is reported to have drawn more than 250 mostly young Libyans from various parts of the country.
The organisers hope that such event will help ensure the development of horse racing in Libya.
The Libyan Horse Racing Authority was set up in October 2013. Its activities include horse breeding and welfare, training and licensing of trainers and the organising of racing events in Libya.
Libya has had a long history of horse racing. The Libyan horse breeding industry was established in 1959 under the ministry of agriculture. However, when Qaddafi came to power, he transferred it to the military. This effectively suppressed the thoroughbred industry.
This changed in 2004, when breeders began to attend auctions in Libya and import horses from the UK, US and elsewhere. After the revolution, in 2012, auctions resumed and with it came renewed horse racing although the races at the time were unofficial.
Meanwhile in Mizdah, 175 kilometres south of the capital, a more traditional equestrian event got underway yesterday. A two-day equestrian festival, the first in the town for some time, drew large numbers of spectators as well as participants from a wide area, including places such as Nesmah, Al-Shgega and Fassanu.