Gulf News : Grilla wins inaugural Zayed Cup

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Favourite outclasses local rivals in race run as part of Mansour racing festival

A trio of champions came together to register a convincing victory in the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Grade Three) race which made its debut at the Sam Houston Race Park here on Saturday night.

Owner and trainer Bill Waldron, jockey William J. Hollick and five-year-old champion grey Grilla — all recent winners of the 2010 Darley Awards for American Arabian Racing — won the inaugural running of the Zayed Cup, part of the 2011 Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival.

Bred, owned and trained by Waldron and a multiple-graded stakes winner in 2010, Grilla hit the front early in the eight-furlong race and then proceeded to outclass Texas stars TM Fred Texas and Chriss SWA.

First of the year

The win was the first for the year for the son of Waldron’s great Darley-winning mare Dixie Darlene bred to the French Arabian import Kong after his five wins and a second in seven starts last year.
The Florida-based Grilla started as the favourite but the Texas fans had hoped for another big run from TM Fred Texas after the four-year-old colt had won the Texas Six Shooter (Grade Three) on March 4 and was coming in with a lifetime record of five wins from six starts.

But Jose Fuguero’s best efforts on the four-year-old son of Burning Sands (sire of Big Easy which was a proven speed-specialist in the UAE a few seasons ago) could not make it three-in-three for the year despite a late burst with Chris SWA running into third place.

Abdul Rahman Ahmad Al Jaber, representative of the UAE Embassy in the US, attended the race meeting and also distributed the trophies to the winning connections of Grilla along with festival director Lara Sawaya, Texas Arabian Breeder’s Association president Ed Wilson, Martial Boisseuil, racing consultant of Wathba Stud Farm and Waleed Al Moughraby, the Festival’s financial controller from Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).

Texas debut

Saturday’s race, part of a star-studded meeting for Quarter Horses including the $600,000 (Dh2.2 million) Sam Houston Futurity race, was the Shaikh Mansour Festival’s debut race in Texas.
The next Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup will be held in Toulouse in France with further stops in Duindigt in the Netherlands, Delaware Park in the US, Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany, Warzloviec in Poland, Croan in France and the final race in Abu Dhabi.