What started with a glittering HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Arabian Awards and US Darley Awards ceremony on Friday, stopped over at the Santa Anita Park for the first-ever Arabian Stakes race and then ended on Sunday with an equally spectacular show accompanied by a gala dinner and the Arabian Racing Cup Stallion Auction.
And amidst all the action, the loudest cheers of the night went to Victor Espinoza –the California-based jockey who last week won the Dubai World Cup on California Chrome! The two had in 2014 won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and last year Espinoza rode American Pharoah to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby, the 2015 Preakness Stakes, and the 2015 Belmont Stakes for the first Triple Crown victory since Affirmed and Steve Cauthen did it back in 1978.
HE Abdulla Al Subose, UAE Consul General in Los Angeles, Aref Alawani – secretary general of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sami Al Boenian- IFAHR President, Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi -Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club Director General, Dr. Salah Al-Junaidi representative of the Judicial Department, Khalid Al Hussein Al Hammadi – GAYSC representative, HE Lulwa Awadhi and Dr. Wadoda Badran, Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and American Racing Cup stewards led by Denise Gault were among the many VIP guests who attended the function.
Ms Noura Al Suwaidi, who was not present, was honoured as the representative of the UAE’s General Women’s Union while Espinoza along with Keith Brackpool, Chairman, Santa Anita Park, Aref Alawani, Dr Nader Saab, Fadia Karam, Derek Thompson, UAE Endurance riders Shathra Al Hajaj and Nouf, the Italian ladies endurance team and many others were honoured at the gala dinner with some impressive and spell-bound performances from professional artistes.
Denise Gault, the Chief Steward of American Racing Cup, organizers of the Darley Awards felicitated her fellow stewards and then shocked everyone by announcing Michelle Morgan as the future Chief Steward.
Later a lively 2016 Cup Auction at Darleys for breedings to some of the best of Purebred Arabian Stallions was held. Owners, breeders and trainers participated in the bid for semen of some remarkable stallions like Munjiz, Mahabb, Rabah De Carrere, Grilla, Madj Al Arab, Madjani, TC Richie and the popular So Big Is Better. The auction was a fundraising programme of the Arabian Racing Cup for its breeders’ incentive fund.
Almost all the top officials hailed the support of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister 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 for their far-sighted support to the cause of Purebred Arabian racing.
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, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, IPIC as Strategic Partner, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with and sponsored by Ayadii LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Bloom, Petromal, Rise General Trading Co. LLC, Hayatna, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Dr Nader Saab Switzerland, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2016, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.