Three winners from the 2014 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup race series are part of the strong line-up for Friday’s HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Prix De Carthage – Hannibal) Group 2 race at the Toulouse Hippodrome.
Last year’s winner Sir Bani Yas, Djet Taouy the winner of the Newbury Sheikh Zayed Cup and Valentin the winner of the Sheikh Zayed Cup in Berlin last year are all starting in Friday’s 2000-metre turf contest with a prize fund of Euros 35,000.
“This Toulouse race gains added importance as it is the inaugural leg of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s European Purebred Arabians Triple Crown which sees the cream of the Europe-based horses contesting for an additional Euro 50,000 bonus. Duindigt racecourse in The Netherlands hosts the second round on June 28, while the final and decisive leg will be staged at Sluzewiec racecourse in Poland on August 23. The horse that has earned maximum points with its performance in the three races wears the Festival’s European Purebred Arabians Triple Crown and the Euros 50,000 bonus,” said Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairman of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR).
Defending champion Sir Bani Yas will be one of the favourites. Raced by His Highness the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained in France by Jean-Francois Bernard, the five-year-old son of Amer won both 2014 starts and the connections will be looking forward for a great start of the series which culminates in the world’s richest Arabian horse race, the 1.2m Euro Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Group 1 at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club in Abu Dhabi on November 8.
“Sir Bani Yas is working well and hopefully he would be the one to beat in the race,” said a confident trainer JF Bernard.
Bernard also saddles the Saudi top weight Ghadanfer Al Khalediah, JB Eyquem up, in a bid to find his strides after a long layoff.
“He did well last season and has won one of his four outings while finishing second, fifth and sixth respectively in the rest,” Bernard clarified.
Apart from Djet Taouy (D Michaux) and Valentine (M Foulon) the other runners include Photon Du Lop (FX Bertras), Ammar (Oliver Peslier), Najilaa (T Henderson), Al Mouwaffak (J Auge), Wathah (RC Montenegro) and Beune De L’Ardus (D Morisson).
Meanwhile, Omani lady jockey Azhar Al Wardi partners Shen and jumps from stall-4 in the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s seventh leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship IFAHR. The Ladies race has attracted nine runners going to post early in the evening at the same venue and will be contested over a mile and carries Euro30.000 in prize money.
Both events are held under the directives of the His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and Head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood under the umbrella of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival.
Experienced Irish lady jockey Aine O’Connor who has already tasted success in Australia two years ago, will be riding Qatar’s Forgehill Cartier and will launch her claim from stall-7.
“I was told that he has a win, two seconds and three thirds and has finished only once out of the frame in 13 starts. I think this is a good form and with little touch of luck things could be promising,” she said.
The other lady riders are: Eilidh Grant (USA), Silja Storen (Norway), Annelise King (Australia), Hana Jurankova (Austria), Nicole Schlatter (Switzerland), Alexandra Rosa (France) and Larissa Bieb (Germany).
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2015, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Yas Channel, Omeir Travels and Racing Post.