Q8khail: So Big wins big for trainer Shelley

Makes thrilling 1-2 finish with stablemate in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup in California
Joockey James Wooter Jr rides So Big Is Better to victory in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup race in Pleasanton on Saturday
San Francisco : So Big Is Better demolished his rivals including stablemate Qjuick Sand PW to complete a thrilling 1-2 for owner-trainer Helen Shelley in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup as the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Festival made its much-awaited debut in Pleasonton, California.

Only a week ago the two stablemates finished in the same order when racing in nearby Stockton and on Saturday once again lined up at the historic Pleasonton race track at the Alameda County Fair to face the seven rivals that they met earlier in the San Joaquin County Fair.

Ridden by James Wooter Jr. So Big Is Better hit the front with two furlongs to run in the seven-furlong contest for Purebred Arabians and was chased to the line by his younger stable star Qjuick Sand, the mount of Chris Russell.

So Big Is Better won in a time of 1:17.99 at a venue which is the oldest one-mile horse racing track in America and dates back to 1855. Both So Big Is Better and Qjuick Sand are by Burning Sands who also sired Big Easy, whom horse racing fans in the UAE will remember as being one of the outstanding short-distance runners who was trained by Satish Seemar.

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Huge comeback

So Big Is Better’s impressive second successive win is a huge comeback for the seven-year-old who has been nominated for a Darley award in the United States every year since 2008.

“I am overjoyed with this result. I wanted them to race here in California and I will run them in the remaining races here,” said Shelley who owns both horses along with her husband Warren Shelley.

“We have over a 100 Purebred Arabian horses at our base in Sacramento and we are keen to support the initiative by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, in all the races here in California,” the winning trainer said.

Saturday’s race, which was held as part of the hugely popular Alameda County Fair, was aimed at reviving Purebred Arabian racing in the region.

The Wathba Stud Farm Cup received a quick boost when Lara Sawaya, Director of the Shaikh Mansour Festival, announced that next year the race will be elevated to a higher status.

“We will be staging the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup with prize money of $20,000 [Dh73,400] next year,” she said during the prize distribution ceremony.

Abdul Rahman Al Jaber, Diplomatic Attache at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC, was the chief guest at the event.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), the Shaikh Mansour Festival’s Wathba Stud Farm Cup races will also be held in four other venues in California — Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Fairplex and Fresno