Michael O’Hagan, pictured with jockey Chris Johnson following Savvy Coup’s win in the 2018 Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai New Zealand Oaks.  Photo: Trish Dunell

Meet the sponsor: Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks

Caitlin O'Sullivan
16 March 2021

Top class racing and an atmosphere to match – bring on Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai New Zealand Oaks Day! We caught up with Michael O'Hagan of Al Basti Equiworld to chat about the sponsorship and how it came about. 

How did Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai's sponsorship for the NZ 2000 Guineas and New Zealand Oaks come about? 

A number of years ago I was in Dubai with Mr Al Basti who expressed an interest in New Zealand Racing. I made contact with Greg Purcell who was the then CEO of NZTR. A couple of days later I was on a plane from Dubai to Auckland and on to Christchurch. Bernard Saundry is now of course the boss of NZTR and we really appreciate his support for all that we do in New Zealand.

And before you could say, Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai - the deal was done with the two tracks. My long time friend, Michael Martin retired CEO of the NZTBA and his wife Susan Archer were an enormous help with the introductions and the details. Greg made it all happen with the New Zealand Jockeys sponsorship and the rest is history.  Since then, I have made a number of trips to New Zealand, all of which I thoroughly enjoy. I have some great friends there in Nick King (Brighthill Stud) and Gordon Cunningham (Curraghmore). Via Michael Martin, Tara Hughes has come on board and represents Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai whenever I cannot get there.

Do you have a favorite edition of each race? 

Not really. My favorite part of any raceday is the experience that the racetrack creates for the race goers. Both Riccarton Park and Wellington Racing are continually striving to make the race day experience that little bit special for everyone. Mr Al Basti is so very keen that everyone who works with horses is looked after, hence the Best Turned Out program that both tracks run in The Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai name are so very important.

Both races highlight the country's top 3YOs. Is this purely coincidental, or is there something about 3YO racing that Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai particularly enjoy? 

No. Mr Al Basti loves the Classics. And he is tremendously proud to have his company’s name associated with these two prestigious races.

New Zealand Oaks Day is a highlight for many! In your eyes, what makes it such a great day of racing? 

The Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai New Zealand Oaks is very special because the winning filly gets launched into the top tier of a potentially great broodmare band of the winning owners. It is always fascinating to watch where the winning fillies go on to race and then ultimately to breed.

What are you most looking forward to come Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai New Zealand Oaks Day, 20 March? 

Being there would be my normal response but despite my best intentions, I fear that the current worldwide pandemic crippling so many international travel plans, that I will yet again miss the day in Wellington. New Zealand have handled the pandemic much to the envy of many other nations. So 2021 will carry on without myself or Mr Al Basti. Tara will be there and will fly our flag on the day and we will watch from a far with great pride and excitement. 

I know that Mr Al Basti would like to thank everyone in the New Zealand Racing community for their warm welcome and great friendship over the years that we have been involved with New Zealand.

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