The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) announced the following UK nominees, Joanna Mason, Debbie Burt and Laura King have been invited to attend the coveted HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards in Hollywood this week. The awards recognise the high achievement of women in Arabian horseracing worldwide during 2016.

Reigning ARO Lady Champion Amateur Jockey, Joanna Mason, is looking to uphold the UK’s strong record in the Best Amateur Jockey category, having previously been successful with Rachel King (2014) and Stefania Gandola (2015). Mason started riding Arabians in 2016 with a ride in the Texas leg of HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship Series (IFAHR), finishing a close second. This experience fuelled her enthusiasm and she clinched the Ladies domestic title with five wins from 25 rides for a variety of owners, including ARO patron HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Mason admitted that the invitation hadn’t really sunk in saying: “It’s such an honour to be put forward for this award and I am really excited to be going to America. Thanks to the HH Sheikha Fatima race series introducing me to the sport, I’ve had a fantastic first season racing with ARO. I am really grateful to all the owners who supported me last season and am looking forward to defending my title in the UK this year.”

In addition to fulfilling the role as ARO’s Media and PR Executive and Official Photographer, Debbie Burt also publishes her own digital magazine, The Arabian Racehorse, covering domestic and international Arabian racing. This is the fourth time Burt has been nominated in the Media category and she was delighted to learn of her invitation saying: “It is through ARO and the original nomination for the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards that my career as a racing journalist and photographer has flourished.”

She continued: “As well as my own magazine, I write and supply pictures for numerous publications around the world, covering both Arabian and Thoroughbred racing. It is an honour to represent the UK in these prestigious awards again, and regardless of the result on the 31st, I hope that my work will continue to promote and support the sport of Arabian racing globally.”

Dubai Racing Channel’s Laura King is attempting to retain her crown as Best TV Presenter; speaking at the close of the UAE racing season she said: “I’m very honoured to have been nominated for the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards for a fourth time. As ever, competition will be tough, but I’m trying my best to defend it, as winning last year was a huge thrill. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this year’s ceremony due to family commitments, but I’ll be watching on from afar and hope very much to be back in 2018. The very best of luck to all of the nominees, both equine and human.”

The Arabian Racing Organisation commented: “The HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards have been a great initiative to recognise the achievements of women in Arabian racing. ARO is very proud that our amateur jockeys have such a good record and our two previous winners continue to excel – Rachel King is now a successful jockey in Australia and Stefania Gandola will be taking out her ARO training license this season. Whilst we naturally wish all our shortlisted nominees every success on Friday, our best wishes go to all the nominees from every country whose endeavours, both on the track and off, are helping to raise the profile of Arabian racing around the world.”

The glittering Awards Ceremony and Gala weekend will take place during the 31st Annual Darley Awards from March 31 to April 2 2017 in Hollywood, California, sponsored by the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Horse Racing Festival. According to Festival Executive Director, Lara Sawaya, the Darley Awards will be presented on March 31 at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre in front of 3000 invited guests. On April 1 the Grade 1 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards Stakes (PA) will be run at Santa Anita Park and on the evening of Sunday April 2, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Awards Gala Dinner will be held at the Beverly Hills Wilshire, Rodeo Drive. Further details will be available in due course from the Arabian Racing Cup’s website www.arabianracingcup.com