Gulf News: Sand Witchh whets connoisseurs’ appetite

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In Saturday’s first running of the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Grade 3) race for Purebred Arabians which marked the US debut for the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian flat racing series, Sand Witchh demolished her rivals under jockey William Hollick. Frysk Me Now finished second and Full Of Fiesta was third.

Delaware: Group 1 multi-stakes winner and 2009 Horse of the Year in the United States, Sand Witchh passed another major test to stretch her unbeaten record to seven races and stake early claims to becoming the next Alanudd (Unchained Melody).

In Saturday’s first running of the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Grade 3) race for Purebred Arabians which marked the US debut for the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian flat racing series, Sand Witchh demolished her rivals under jockey William Hollick. Frysk Me Now finished second and Full Of Fiesta was third.
Trained by Tracy Nunley, the 4-year-old Burning Sand filly was facing an ‘all-boys’ field and was also making only her second appearance in about nine months and was defending her all win record in six previous starts. But the odds-on-favourite was spot on as Hollick broke away with about three furlongs to go. After that it just seemed a one-horse race though Sand Witchh looked to be tiring and the son of Dormane, Frysk Me Now, tried to put up a fight.

High praise

Class came to the fore though and Sand Witchh romped home with about four lengths to spare and both winning trainer and jockey singing her praises.

“I was a bit nervous as he was taking on the boys going for a 7 out of 7 record. But she is an unbelievable filly and one of the best horses, thoroughbreds and Arabians included, that I have ever trained,” said Tracy who trains the champion along with her husband Randy Nunley.

“She is such a pleasure to ride, as genuine as they come. It is once in a lifetime that you get to ride such a champion horse and today I just left it to do it herself,” said Hollick, who used to race in the UAE a few seasons ago. “She is the best horse I have ever ridden and she has got everything,” said the 41-year-old jockey.

Sand Witchh will now have to prove herself over the longer distance before she can be genuinely considered as the heiress to Alanudd, the legendary mare that ran in the colours of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Yousuf Al Otaiba, UAE’s ambassador to the United States, who distributed the trophies and also picked the winning tickets for two US couples for a visit to Abu Dhabi said, “This is a proud day for the UAE in staging the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup for the first time here in the US.”

Lara Sawaya, director of the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Flat Racing Festival, said, “The two tickets that were drawn in a free raffle will entail two couples to a 5-day full board stay in Abu Dhabi during the Arabian Racing Conference on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX 2010).”