Khaleej Times : Shathra raring to go

UAE representative Shathra Al Hajjaj will launch her claim from stall No. 3 as the country’s only participant partners Our Princess in the fifth leg of the HH Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) is set to break new ground at Newbury Racecourse here on Saturday evening.

According to the organisers, the mile and a quarter’s contest will be run as a Hands & Heels Race. All jockeys may carry a whip in accordance with Regulation 61(i), but must not use their whip except where a failure to do so may result in endangering any jockey, horse or other individual. Use of the whip may, at the discretion of the Stewards, result in disqualification.

The race is scheduled to take place immediately after the evening’s feature Lockinge Stakes Group-1 which sees the world’s highest rated Thoroughbred Frankel making his seasonal reappearance.

“I hope to make my presence felt on this occasion,” said a confident UAE top lady jockey Shathra Al Hajjaj after the draw which was held during the pre-race Press conference on Thursday.

Trainer Gillian Duffield saddles Silaah in the distinguished blue silks of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, who will be ridden by the Austrian jockey Manuela Slamanig.

“It’s a pleasure to be represented in the HH Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship series and hopefully our partnership with the Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival will continue,” Duffield said.

“We have to wait to find out. Silaah is a gelded maiden who’s rated 75 and this may not help his claim. But, should he manage to appreciate the distance and the possibly good going, he should be thereabouts,” she said.

Swedish professional lady jockey Annelie Hollstenius takes the ride on Katwalk for trainer and owner Miss C Taylor and launches her claim from the ideal stall No. 5.

“Trainer Taylor told me that Katwalk has great potential and could be the one to beat in the race. The draw is good and there’s nothing to worry about,” the Sweden 26-year-old rider who struck 107 winners in her career said.

“I have won the Wathba Stud Farm Cup for Purebred Arabians at Taby Racecourse in Stockholm last August aboard UA Bey Shaka and looking forward to break new grounds in the HH Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship series. It’s a great honour for me to book a dream line up in the final round of the competition in Abu Dhabi,” she said.

But, English lady jockey Anna Wallace was overconfident after she was drawn to ride Al Mamoon which is also owned and trained by D Thomas. “I have won only two races in my career as amateur rider and fortunately my mount has every chance to strike. Al Mamoon has won on his last start and finished respectable second late last season. I’m not worried at all about my chances,” she said.

Lara Sawaya, director of the Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Racing Festival and head of the International Federation of Arab Horse Racing (IFAHR) Ladies Racing, commented: “

Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, is the driving force behind our efforts to achieve the noble goals and objectives of the Festival.

“I would like to thank Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union for her strong support to the amateur lady riders and the UAE women by availing them the opportunity to show the best of them in sports in general and equestrian in particular.”