Gulfnews : Wathba Stud Cup gets under way at Newbury

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Newbury: Thirteen runners have been declared to line up for the Wathba Stud Cup Premier Handicap Stakes at Newbury racecourse on Sunday.

The event is sponsored by the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and is open for purebred Arabians aged three years and above. It will be contested over 2,000m with a total prize money of £10.000 (Dh57,447) plus £1,000 for the winner’s breeders.

Zaaqya, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, leads a trio from the stables of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. Neil Calan unites with Nasemah and Martin Dwyer partners top weight Azwa. All three fillies are looked after by trainer Gillian Duffield.

Zaaqya, a well-bred four-year-old daughter of Al Sakabe, is unbeaten in two starts, winning her maiden race at Stratford last season and impressing in a conditions contest on her seasonal reappearance against a quality field at Fakenham over seven furlongs. Although her stamina is unproven, she is bred to stay and looks progressive.

Stable companion Azwa is a home-bred filly by Kaolino, a champion racehorse and sire and a multi Group 1 winner who has also landed the prestigious $250,000 (Dh918,015) Dubai Kahayla Classic Group 1. She also finished second to stable companion Ladjani de Paimas when narrowly beaten by a short-head over nine furlongs at Wolverhampton last May. It has been reported that her inexperience cost her the race’s result, but she went one better to win a maiden event at the same track ahead of stable companion Nasemah over a shorter distance.

The only threat to Shaikh Hamdan’s contenders comes from the Omani mare Al Batra’a, who makes her Newbury debut in the distinguished silks of the Oman Royal Cavalry.

The seven-year-old daughter of Newday won a conditions race over a mile under top weight last time out, when she defeated Marwah in a two-horse race at Taunton in August.

Abdullah Al Qubaisi, communications director at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said: “We are delighted to see the Wathba Stud Cup races hitting such a great level of strength and attracting horses from within the UK and abroad.

“The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority is planning a number of activities to support Arabian horseraces worldwide, and at the top of our efforts comes the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup.”

Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and head of IFAHR ladies racing, said: “We are here to stage the seventh round of the Wathba Stud Cup to support small owners. We are delighted to see such a huge numbers of entries for the two races. The Wathba Cup has attracted 17 horses aged three years and above and this underlines the progressive nature of the festival.”

Three more Wathba Stud Cup races will be staged in Belgium, Holland and France on August 12, to be followed by one race in Germany on August 15.

The HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival is organised to promote purebred Arabians in different parts of the world, with the sponsors being the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

It is co-ordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the General Authority for Youth and Sports and Fegentri with Emirates Airline as the official carrier and is sponsored by Invest AD, Al Rashid Investment, Areej Al Ameerat, Mauzan, AlAwani General Enterprises, Kabale, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012, Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.