Will Bashkiria become centre for development of horse breeding in Russia?

The republic has summed up the results of the third season of the equestrian tournament Terra Bashkiria and discussed its prospects

The unique amateur jockey championship has been held in Bashkiria for the third year. We are talking about the equestrian tournament Terra Bashkiria, the third season of which has recently finished in Ufa. Jockeys from the municipal districts of the republic took part in it, and they performed exclusively on horses of the Bashkir breed. What has changed in three seasons, and whether it was possible to give an impetus to the development of horse breeding in Bashkortostan — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Three seasons — three young champions

This year the tournament has been held in 10 qualifying stages and a final one. Amateur jockeys from four or five different districts participated in each of the preliminary competitions. During the stage, the champion of each of the participating districts was first determined — the riders performed on horses that they brought with them. Then the two best representatives of each of the districts got to the final, where the best jockey of the stage was determined in two races on Bashkir horses of the hippodrome. Based on the results of all stages, 10 participants of the superfinal were determined.

Youth at the tournament regularly wins over experience. In the 2021 season, Ruslan Gareev, a thirteen-year-old schoolboy from the Alsheyevsky district, won. By the way, in past years, very young participants also won victories. In 2019, Denis Kurbanaev from the Kugarchinsky district had no match, at that time he was also 13 years old, and in 2020, fifteen-year-old Aygul Muratova from the Chishminsky district became the champion of the superfinal. This season, she has already tried to challenge professional jockeys and taken part in the thoroughbred horse race.

“We see when young participants come, and it pleases us. This is the candidate pool that we need. Aygul Muratova is a vivid example. The person who will definitely remain in the horse breeding system. It is very important to us that as many children as possible are engaged, are passionate about it, we hope to attract them as much as possible," says Damir Iseyev, the director of the Akbuzat competence centre for horse breeding and equestrian sports.

The project was originally conceived as a television one

From the very first season, Terra Bashkiria tournament was broadcast live on several TV channels and on social networks. It was distinguished from other events at the Akbuzat racetrack by a lot of media attention, and with it popularity came. For the first time in a long time, the tournaments were sellout, at least until the coronavirus pandemic began.

“The tournament was created with the direct participation of Rostislav Murzagulov and Deputy Prime Minister Ilshat Fazrakhmanov. Rostislav Rafkatovich watched the presentation of the television project of the equestrian tournament Terra Bashkiria and dialed Ilshat Ildusovich by phone. They immediately found an understanding, and one thing led to another. At that time, the new director, Damir Iseyev, came to the leadership of the competence centre Akbuzat. He also quickly got involved in the work. The entire Akbuzat team supported the project. It was originally conceived as a television one. Match TV is engaged in the production of content, and TV channels actively broadcast it," one of the authors of the idea of creating the tournament, chairman of the executive committee of the World Kurultay (Congress) of Bashkir People, Galim Yakupov, told Realnoe Vremya.

Not only horse racing on Bashkir horses got into the television broadcast. Between the performances of the districts, nominal and traditional prizes were played in trotting races and horse races on thoroughbred English horses.

“The price of a Bashkir horse has risen”

In addition to determining the best amateur jockeys, another task set by the organisers was to stimulate the districts to develop equestrian sports and breed Bashkir horses.

“Many districts began to pay more attention to these issues, work began to be carried out more clearly and centrally in breeding farms and stud farms engaged in breeding Bashkir horses, we set vectors for further work," said the head of the competence centre for horse breeding and equestrian sports Akbuzat.

The Bashkir breed in the regions of the republic was often kept exclusively as efficient — for milk and meat. With the start of the tournament, the districts had a need to select the most capable horses for racing. Moreover, one of the requirements of the organisers is that the horse must be of Bashkir breed, without improvements by crossing, which the owners often resorted to for victories at district sabantuys. If in the first season the horses of improved local breeds were allowed to race, then in the subsequent ones only riders of Bashkir horses were allowed to compete.

“Finally, attention was paid to the Bashkir breed. We visited all farms, especially in the southern districts. Now they have more or less an idea where there are horses, where there are not. Who works poorly, who works well. The price of a Bashkir horse has naturally risen. Naturally, this is a plus for people who breed horses, they now sell them at a normal price," says Ilshat Makhmutov, master rider, director of the Argamak equestrian complex.

The tournament successfully fulfills the task of preserving and popularising the Bashkir horse breed, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Qoroltai of the Bashkirs (VKB) Galim Yakupov is sure:

“There have appeared teams in the districts. Earlier, the districts hired jockeys in various other places. Now it's a matter of honour to ride for your district. There are many farmers who have become breeders of the Bashkir horse breed, there is active purchasing and selling of them.”

More closed prizes are needed

However, there are still unresolved issues. Starting next season, it was planned to introduce passports for all Bashkir horses that would be allowed to race in the tournament, however, apparently, the new introduction has been postponed.

“Perhaps, it will be implemented, but not fully, the situation that is developing with the coronavirus in the economy is not very favourable. I understand that it is very difficult for horse owners to work directly on the ground. Maybe we will give some easing in this regard. People, a lot of, have already brought into compliance the documents that are needed," Damir Iseev revealed the details.

It is not yet known when the fourth season of the Amateur Jockeys' Championship starts. Photo: mcx.gov.ru

According to Ilshat Makhmutov, one of the problems is the lack of specialists in the Bashkir breed who could qualitatively evaluate horses in the districts. Speaking about the difficulties faced by owners and trainers of trotters, as well as riders, Ilshat Makhmutov notes the insufficient number of closed prizes for horses of trotting breeds born in Bashkortostan:

“For the third year we have been saying that we need to do more closed prizes in order to increase the number of livestock. These prizes need to be more and with a good amount of prize money. After all, horses born in Bashkiria cannot compete with local or imported Americans. Many private owners of the republic cannot afford to buy a Lokot horse, and they can buy a Ufa horse, young animals. But to do this, they need to know that they will race in closed prizes in Akbuzat. More closed and for purebred, born in Bashkiria, for trotters, for Oryol ones.”

Among other problems, they name the high cost of keeping horses at the racetrack and a shortage of personnel. One of the riders anonymously said that the proposed salaries do not allow inviting and retaining qualified employees: “If we talk about trotters at the racetrack, there are fans of their business remained. There are not enough people, who would agree in Ufa for a salary of 20,000 rubles? If our rider has an offer from another city, not even from Moscow, but also from the province, he goes there because of the best conditions. In recent years, thanks to Terra, we have at least prizes in races. Before that, there were just points. I hope that the situation will continue to change for the better.”

It is not yet known when the fourth season of the Amateur Jockeys' Championship starts. Apparently, the exact start date of the 2022 tournament will be determined in winter.

Emil Ziyangirov
Analytics Tatarstan