What Should You Know about Racing in Kazakhstan?

February 6, 2024

Kabirkhan victorious in the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1) Jan. 26 at Meydan (Dubai Racing Club)

By Michaela Moricova

As Kabirkhan swept down the competition in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge in Dubai, interest in this horse and its team understandably increased. Given my experience with people from Kazakhstan and Russia regarding horse racing, I figured out I could cast some light onto the fact that they have been in the sport for decades, often overlooked, and I find Kabirkhan’s success a great opportunity to reverse that trend. After all, the son of California Chrome isn’t the only interesting purchase these people have made.

What Is the Main Racecourse in Kazakhstan?

Almaty. There is a track in the former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, that was opened in 1930. During Kazakhstan’s existence under the USSR, the racecourse belonged among the most modern race courses in the area; however, it decayed after the USSR ceased to exist. Thanks to several enthusiasts, the hippodrome survived, and in the 2000s, the Jockey Club was formed and… went bankrupt.

Still, the Almaty racecourse was saved after it was bought in an auction. The racing has been intact here since, and the location has been added to a list of historical and cultural monuments of Almaty. So, hopefully, its future is ensured. 

What Do Races Look like in Almaty?

After Kabirkhan’s victory in Meydan, I am sure that some people stumbled upon the chestnut’s debut race in Kazakhstan. Therefore, I find it slightly redundant to speak about how it looks compared to American or European standard tracks. It’s a mile and a quarter long; the surface is described as sand. The only thing I would like to add is that I am from the Czech Republic, a country with a long tradition of horse racing, yet not one with lots of funding going into the sport, yet honestly, only one of our racecourses is comparable to Almaty. The rest of them are at a completely different level in terms of quality…

Were There Any Other Tremendous Horses Like Kabirkhan?

Probably not, but we might see other talented animals in the future because the owner of Kabirkhan has several other young horses in Russia that he intends to run under Kazakhstan’s flag. Currently, they reside with Arslangirey Shavuev in Russia, a trainer you probably haven’t heard of. Yet, I would like to talk about him a bit in the last part of the article alongside the most famous jockey from Kazakhstan.

The German Star, Bauyrzhan Murzabayev

Being from the Czech Republic, I witnessed this star rising from a modest beginning to achieving the title of the best Jockey in the CZ, upon which the talented jockey added two of these titles in Germany, riding for the most prominent names there. In 2022, he scored the German Derby aboard Sammarco. In 2023, he relocated to France to Andre Fabre, and even though he scored several notable prizes, he’s again bound for Germany. Well, after he finishes his campaign in Japan.

Bauyrzhan Murzabayev is one of the most talented jockeys I have ever seen and the best coming from Kazakhstan. How did he get to Europe? Well, the mentioned trainer, Arslangirey Shavuev, used to work in the Czech Republic for decades, often offering jobs to talented guys from Asia. Bauyrzhan Murzabayev was one of them and managed to make the most out of it, and together with Kabirkhan, they bravely wave the flag of Kazakhstan. 

And Who Is This Arslangirey Shavuev?

A Russian trainer who used to train in the Czech Republic for a considerable amount of time. Besides having numerous Czech and Slovakian Derby winners, he also prepared beloved Darsalam to his Ascot ventures and achieved third place in the French 2000 Guineas thanks to Shamalgan (behind Lope de Vega and Dick Turpin). However, he’s not in Europe anymore, as after Russia commenced the invasion of Ukraine, this guy disappeared like thin air.

In a couple of months, it was reported he was back in Russia and about to train some horses for wealthy individuals of various origins, including the Kabirkhan’s owner. Honestly, it didn’t come as a surprise to anybody who knew him in the Czech Republic, as Shavuyev has always been in contact with influential people, training horses for a movie producer from Kazakhstan, Ardak Amirkulov, and the Chechnya dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.

Is the Horse Racing in Kazakhstan Worth Much Attention?

No, not really in terms of watching their racing. Still, I suggest watching closely what horses they are buying and importing because they have an eye for smart horses, they have skilled people, and thanks to Kabirkhan, they shouldn’t be underestimated as a nation in the world of horse racing. 

Contributing Authors

Michaela Moricova, Past The Wire

Michaela Moricova

Michaela Moricová has been writing about horse racing since high school. At first, only via Facebook, where a group of enthusiasts noticed her and offered...

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