Dubai International Arabian Raceday 2013
American racegoers are accustomed to seeing an Arabian race as part of Thoroughbred meetings, even on a big occasion such as Preakness day, 2012. Whilst the same occurs in the United Kingdom, the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO), also regularly host full cards exclusively for Arabians. The highlight is Dubai International Arabian Raceday held at Newbury, widely regarded as the home of Arabian racing in the UK.
Under the continued and most generous sponsorship of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, the eight race card features three Group 1 races. Entry to the event is free, ensuring the widest possible audience, attracting new supporters to this popular sport that manages to combine top international performers, whilst still keeping in touch with its amateur roots.
This years’ event took place as a ‘twilight’ fixture, with the first race at 4.00pm, the Emirates Airline premier handicap over 7f. The winner, Ambrose, is not the most straightforward of horses, a fact confirmed by all of his connections. His trainer, Bill Smith (a former jump jockey for Her Majesty the Queen Mother) explained that the ease in the ground and the drop in grade had helped this full brother to a Hatta International winner in Nokomys, return to form.
The other two handicaps on the card both fell to ARO’s leading trainer Gill Duffield, for her main patron (and fittingly, the day’s sponsor) HH Sheikh Hamdan, who was also present. Prince Hamin, winner of the stayers handicap and Aljawaaher who took the mile event, were both lightly raced, skilfully handled by Duffield to break their maidens on this most auspicious day.
Aljawaaher is a son of one of Sheikh Hamdan’s most successful Arabian racehorses, the now deceased Bengali D’Albret, sire of Group winners around the globe, including the United States. Visiting from the US was Denise Gault, who founded Race Street over 25 years ago with the intention of offering sales and management consultation services to the Arabian racing industry worldwide.
Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud has been one of her clients since 2001. On her fourth visit to Dubai Day she explains “I represent Shadwell’s three US based stallions, Chndaka, Kaolino and Nivour De Cardonne, in addition to the frozen semen of Al Saoudi, Madjani and No Risk Al Maury, who stand in France.
“In the US they don’t have a racing string, they only have breeding stallions that they considered worthy of retiring to stud, they pick and choose where they stand, as there can only be so many Dormane sons in France and so on; they chose the US as we needed some French bloodlines to outcross on our American speed mares to introduce more durability and endurance.
“It’s been very good, we’re now in our second and third generations and our horses have been very successful. We’re in our eleventh year of having Shadwell stallions and they have, without question, jump started Arabian racing again. They have brought in some class horses, with great breeding, conformation and racing ability and at the end of every season, Shadwell stallions are always in the top 10 stallion lists. Burning Sand is still the dominant sire, but they were second last year with Chndaka and their other sires are making an impact too.”
The Group races on the Dubai card lived up to their International billing, with runners bred, owned, or trained in Britain, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Iraq, Qatar and America. The Zabeel is a sprint, often won, as this year, by a French trained runner. Al Mouhannad, the only four year old, was a clear winner for the Royal Cavalry of Oman, who fielded three runners with different trainers.
The Hatta, is confined to fillies and mares, like the feature event, it’s run over a mile and a quarter and is sponsored by Shadwell Stud. Shararah, also trained in France, was a surprise winner when the favourite, former World Cup winner Areej, seemed to idle in front, allowing Shararah to snatch the spoils on the line.
The Group 1 Dubai International Stakes, was won by Djet Taouy, in a thrilling photo finish with Rathowan, ahead of Al Hibaab. Owned and bred by Frenchman, Dr Paul Daverio, he is from the first European crop of Champion racehorse Dahess. Djet Taouy, originally trained in France, has struck a rich vein of form since transferring to Dutch handler Diana Dorenberg, having won the President of the UAE Cup at Newmarket the previous month. It marked another victory for the classic generation and he will be a horse to watch for the future, as so many winners of the highlight of the card have been.
In the Group 2 for juveniles over 7 furlongs, Aden, a bay daughter of Burning Sand, avenged the narrow defeats of her stablemates Areej and Rathowan, on only her second start. This was the second success on the day for Burning Sand, as Margreet de Ruiter-Floor’s four year old homebred Burnet had won the Emirates NBD International Stakes.
Both de Ruiter-Floor and trainers, Duffield and Dorenberg, have been recipients of HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley awards, given to outstanding achievement by women in the international Arabian racing community, presented in the US each March.
Returning to Gault, she spoke of Arabian racing in the UK “I am impressed with ARO’s programme, I see how important it is that the horses which are racing with ARO are not just from the big families from overseas. There’s quality breeding throughout Britain. Though of course the attention getter in the big races is important, we need the small races too.”
When asked what attending Dubai International Arabian Raceday meant to her, she enthused. “History is so important to all of us and the history of the Arabian horse is how we all got hooked in here. The incredible generosity of Sheikh Hamdan has given us this raceday for thirty one years, it’s remarkable. I think that anyone that can afford the time, as it’s a busy time in the US right now too, to get away, needs to come here and see it, because it’s a fantastic day and it’s how it should be done’.
The date for the next Dubai International Arabian Raceday was announced that afternoon as August 10 2014, why don’t you come along?