The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted with the inaugural UAE Abu Dhabi Day held at Chelmsford City Racecourse yesterday evening with six Purebred Arabian races held in front of a 10,000 strong audience. They witnessed the first Group 1 race ever to be held at the Essex track, which produced a thrilling finish with Mith’haf Athbah and Tadhg O’Shea winning by the narrowest of margins. This was also the first time the UK stages of the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Gr1PA), and the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies and Apprentice World Championships (IFAHR) were run together on the same card as the feature race.
Fittingly it was the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Gr1PA) which provided the crowd with a truly exciting finish, which saw Mith’haf Athbah and Kalino duelling up the home straight and required a photograph to confirm Mith’haf Athbah’s win by a nose. This was a first Group 1 victory for Mith’haf Athbah, who bravely kept the 2015 HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (Gr1 PA) winner Kalino at bay, with another former Zayed Cup winner, Al Mouwaffak (2015, Toulouse) a further two and a half lengths behind in third. Trainer Phil Collington was full of praise for his colt saying: “Looking back at his previous form in Group races over further, I thought he had the speed to drop back to a mile. I wasn’t sure if he would handle the surface, as he hasn’t run here before, but it was the right decision obviously. The owners, Athbah Stud will be delighted to win a Group 1 with him.”- Mrs. Debbie Burt , Posted on 12 August 2017
The HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) offers the valuable opportunity for professional and amateur lady riders to compete and exchange experiences. The UK stage was won by Madjanthat who led from start to finish for Danish Amateur Rikke Bay Torp, with Vindetta and professional German jockey Tamara Hofer giving chase, and UK amateur Ellie Mackenzie in third on Noble Athlete.
Madjanthat’s trainer James Owen commented: “We’re really pleased with him, obviously his form had dipped in the UAE and he’s been freshened up by doing Endurance since he arrived here in the UK. He’s ridden by girls at home and they get on really well with him. Rikki gave him a great ride today, letting him take charge, and she’s absolutely delighted that she‘ll be going to the finals in Abu Dhabi in November.”
The HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship (IFAHR) UK stage was won by another front-runner in Storm Troupour ridden by 24 year-old Milly Naseb, representing Jordan. Last year’s winner Emiraaty, under the UK’s Paddy Pilley was never able to get on terms in second, though they were clear of recent winner Cheikh Roque and Poland’s Konrad Mazur in third. Both Pilley and Naseb had won at Chelmsford City before, however it was Naseb who had the best record with an impressive five wins from 27 rides on Thoroughbreds at the Essex track.
A clearly delighted Naseb, who is attached to UK thoroughbred trainer Stuart Williams, said: “Although I have had nearly 150 thoroughbred rides in my career so far, I have only had three on Arabian racehorses and this was my first win on an Arabian. I rode in the Apprentice race last year at Lingfield, and in a conditions race here in June, when I was fourth. It will be really exciting to ride in the finals in Abu Dhabi.”
For owner-trainer, Beverly Deutrom it was an emotional victory saying: “I would like to dedicate this win to Shena Paterson who passed away last week. Storm Troupour loves the All Weather and going round a bend, he needed the run at Newbury after returning from Dubai and will go to Belgium next.”
The three supporting races were run under the Wathba Stallions banner, as part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Flat Horse Racing Festival. This proved just as exciting with a double for Owner-Breeder Paul Simmons, trainer, Peter Hammersley, and jockey, David Turner, with the homebred Zayin Angkor Centurion winning the opening maiden and Kallista winning the (0-50) Handicap.
Hammersley said: “That was fantastic. Kallista has been so frustrating. The blinkers helped settle her and everything went her way today, Dave has given her a brilliant ride. Zayin Angkor Centurion is definitely going the right way, he’ll have a rest and head to the UK Arabian Derby next. I’d like to thank the Sheikh Mansoor Festival for a wonderful evening here at Chelmsford.”
It was also an emotion packed finale to the card when Billy’s Girl held off the challenge of Taer Hurr. This gave first wins in Arabian racing for jockey James Harding, trainer and part owner, Luke Gedge-Gibson and also was a first win for the sire of Billy’s Girl, Tidabret.
Harding, who had treated the crowd to a Frankie Dettori style flying dismount in the winners enclosure said: “I get very limited rides, with only one ride under rules for my employer, Jonathon Portman, this season, though I had seven wins from my first 19 rides when I started. It’s brilliant to get a first win on an Arabian, and I’ve ridden Billy’s Girl quite a lot, there’s been quite a few ups and downs with her. She missed the break, but I was able to sit off the early pace and then let them come back to me. She stayed on well.”
Chelmsford City Racecourse Manager Fraser Garrity “It’s been an absolute pleasure to have the Arabian Racing Organisation and the Sheikh Mansoor Festival races here today. It is also a special privilege to be staging our first ever Group 1 race which produced the best finish of the night, it really got the crowd going. Racing is still fairly new to Essex, we’re the only track here and I think the crowd love a good day out and good horses to watch. It doesn’t make any difference to them if they are Arabians or Thoroughbreds.”
Genny Haynes, ARO Director concluded: “ARO is extremely grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival and of its’ Executive Director, Lara Sawaya and we are delighted to welcome all the UAE delegates to witness our Arabian racing here in the UK. Our thanks also go to Racing Welfare for sponsorship of the Best Turned Out awards, and to Fraser Garrity and all the team at Chelmsford for a successful evening.”