HRH Princess Zahra Aga Khan
The horse is one of the most extraordinary phenomenon we have. This industry preserves a species and also an entire population that nurtures that species.
— HRH Princess Zahra Aga Khan

The 36th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) began with a splash in Mumbai on Monday as the National Sports Club of India hosted the opening ceremony at which the biennial convocation was officially launched. Following the parade of Asian Racing Federation (ARF) members, the delegates and invited guests heard from the officiating party and were treated to an evening of Bollywood-style entertainment.

Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 36th ARC began proceedings. "I have the great pleasure of welcoming you all to the 36th Asian Racing Conference which is now the fourth ARC which India has held, and the first time in two decades."

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chairman of the ARF and Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, set the stage for the forthcoming business of the ARC. "This is an essential forum for exchange, the testing of ideas and innovations, and is truly the foundation of new strategies. As we commence the 36th ARC, the reality is that as a sport and an industry, we still confront many complex issues across a wide range of subjects that stretches from addressing hygiene issues like the movement of horses for international competition, to important strategic initiatives to ensure the sustainability of racing in a fast changing competitive environment," said Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges. "There is a great deal of ground to cover in the next three days, but history tells us that the 36th ARC will be equipped as a forum to make the necessary progress. We will do this against the backdrop of Mumbai, one of the most iconic cities on the planet, and as a guest of the Royal Western India Turf Club and all the other Turf Authorities of India. We are so glad to have you here to join us."

The ARC opening ceremony keynote address was delivered by HRH Princess Zahra Aga Khan, a special guest of honour to the ARC in light of her family's long and significant contribution to Asian racing, specifically in India. While discussing the storied history of her family's ties to breeding and racing, Princess Zahra noted the roots of the industry remain grounded. "The horse industry is an important part of the rural economy employing millions of people around the world in areas of shrinking agricultural production. It supports farms and villages, provides permanent year round employment to riders, lads, farriers, vets, farmers and businesses of all kind. And when you think about it, the horse is one of the most extraordinary phenomenon we have. This industry preserves a species and also an entire population that nurtures that species."

Business and specialist sessions at the ARC begin on Tuesday and run through Thursday afternoon. ARC delegates also attended a day at the races on Sunday as the Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks led the docket at the Royal Western India Turf Club's Mahalakshmi Race Course.

Courtesy of the Asian Racing Conference