UAE Women In Racing
Veronika Aske- Traveling Head Lass
Veronika has been a well known face in the UAE racing industry since 2013 when she was assistant trainer at Al Asayl Stables for 3 seasons before retaining her own training license in 2015 based at Al Ain Racecourse, her most successful horse being Latifa Princess who won 3 of her 6 starts for Aske.
The last 4 seasons Veronkia has been working for Ahmed Bin Harmash as work rider and travelling head lass, travelling and saddling horses from Dubai to as far away as South Korea and even attending breeze up sales in the USA for Al Aasfa Stables. Her main love for the job is the horses, “I find this time of year very exciting, starting them back after the summer break and watching the newly purchased youngsters develop and turn into proper racehorses, it gives me a lot of joy seeing the potential they hold”. One of Veronikas fondest racing memories and claim to fame is as a jockey in May 2012 at Newbury Racecourse, winning the Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Arabian Festival race for the Royal Cavalry of Oman out of stall 6, where just a race previous, Frankel had won the Group 1 JLT Lockinge Stakes also out of the same gate!
Some of her most favourite horses that she’s worked with are Touch Gold, “he was a horse with so much personality”, and Walking Thunder, “he is a true professional from the first moment I saw him in Ocala. The most genuine horse I’ve ever known.” She adds “also winning the Al Maktoum Challenge with Richlore at Meydan is a moment I will never forget. There are so many horses that have given me great memories, I think back and they never fail to make me smile and love my job even more.”
As well as being a seasoned jockey, trainer and traveling head, Veronika is a popular TV presenter in her home country of Norway. Studying media and communications at school she got a job as a camerawoman on a Scandinavian trotting track where she worked her way up to live presenting. Since moving to the UAE, they still fly her back every year to join the Norwegian Derby broadcasting team, “I am very grateful to be able to go back to broadcast with them every year, I really do miss presenting and it is absolutely something I want to do more of in the future.”
Debbie Armaly- Owner
Debbie has called the UAE home for the last 28 years but bought her first racehorse share back in 2008 after seeing an article in Dubai’s 7 days newspaper about the Emirates Equestrian Racing Club (EERC), Debbie phoned syndicate organizers Rebecca and Justin Byrne straight away, “I bought myself a share as a Christmas present that year and have been buying small shares in their horses ever since, even at one point had quite a few shares! I often go to the stables with bags of carrots and polos to show the horses we care about them.”
EERC do a great deal of micro shares now to make it more affordable to be involved in all of their horses throughout the season and experience racing hospitality as an owner. “I have been close with lots of the EERC horses over the years but Kilt Rock is still very much one of my favourites and close to my heart, I watched him win so many times at Jebel Ali and Meydan then followed him in his retirement being retained to a riding horse and on to competing in Dubai and most recently in the UK.”
Life After Racing (LAR) is the latest showing league and first of its kind in the UAE, founded by Debbie since January for thoroughbred and Arabian ex racehorses, as she has helped to rehome over 30 horses in the region over the last decade, she saw the perfect opportunity to be able to bring the community together and be able to compete against each other. “When attending the dressage and show jumping shows, I saw so many ex racehorses and thought the UAE needed a league of its own to encourage and support more people to rehome horses that have been retired from the track, I started LAR to see if there was any interest and before we knew it we had over 100 registered!” LAR is continuing to grow as more horses are being bought from the end of season sales and they have now recently opened their online dressage league for horses and riders in Bahrain.
Debbie has also been involved with the Pink Caravan, a charity set up to spread awareness about the importance of breast cancer examinations and provide access mammograms and screening across the seven Emirates, where over 200 horses and riders are involved by riding from state to state to support; in 2016 Debbie had organized one of the rides to include multiple top jockeys in the UAE to participate in a ride around the Palm Jumeriah and proved a great success.
Elise Jeanne- Trainer
Trainer Elise Jeanne who is originally from France has been in the UAE for 21 years. Formerly breeding Arabian horses for Mansoor Al Habtoor, she now holds her own flat training license for the last 6 years with currently eight Arabians and four thoroughbreds (four more on the way) under her wing at Desert 2 Stables in the heart of Dubai.
“I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite horse that I’ve trained as I love them all equally; but my favourite moment as a trainer would have to be Faucon Du Loup giving me my first Group 1 victory in 2017 winning the Al Matoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan Racecourse, that is a feeling I won’t forget.”
Elise is also highly involved with and a big supporter of the Life After Racing League as all of her retired racehorses have been retrained as leisure and competion horses, most recently her exracer MH Mayar struck gold winning the LAR competition last season Elise explains, “to be able to keep our older horses after their racing careers have ended we opened a riding school to the public called My Horse Riding UAE, all of the income from the riding school goes to the horses themselves, we have also had a lot of success with our unique desert and mangrove safari rides and riding lessons.”
During lockdown in 2020 the trainer saw an opportunity to start her own business of making and selling handmade horse milk and aloe vera soaps as another means of income for her retired horses! You can find all of their range of products on www.lesavondlisette.com