It took a full 40 minutes after last year’s winner RB Burn crossed the finish line in the world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians that a Stewards verdict ruled in favour of second-placed Muraaqib.
The Eric Lemartinel –trained RB Burn under Gerald Avranche and the Francois Rohaut-trained Muraaqib under Jim Crowley battled stride for stride before the former finished first in the Euros 1.2 million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (Group 1) race.
Crowley lodged a protest and a lengthy inquiry followed as the Stewards heard from Crowley and Avranche while the packed venue waited for the winner.
The Stewards’ decision to reverse the top two finish meant Muraaqib, the son of Munjiz, won on his UAE debut to extend an impressive record of six Group 1 wins in his career success of 9 wins in 11 starts!
An elated Crowley said, “I was very confident going into the inquiry. I was taken off my line from the furlong mark and I received two bumps. There was no doubt it cost me the race.”
Earlier HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development welcomed the nearly 800 plus guests invited by the Festival from 88 countries and the large gathering of racing fans to the finale which brought the curtain down on the 2017 racing calendar of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival.
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikha Fatma Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to the Oman HE Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Dr. Abdulla Al Raisi, Director General of the National Archives, Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, General Manager of Wathba Stallions, Chairperson of the Int’l Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and ADEC Director General Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi gave away the trophies to the winners of the five Purebred Arabian races along with other VIP guests, representatives of the Festival’s sponsors, officials.
HH Sheikh Nahyan said, “We thank 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 with whose direction this demanding event has become a wonderful tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”
“Now entering its 10th year the Festival holds an eminent position in the world of horse racing and has taken Abu Dhabi to a global audience,” he added.
Ms. Sawaya congratulated HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance on the success of Muraaqib. She also hailed the success of the race meeting and particularly that of the first ever pony international race.
The Festival’s Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony race was the final fixture of the meeting and it was young Mia Ann Nicholls wearing the red, white and blue silks who made Britain proud with a superb win.
Mia Ann Nicholls, the daughter of trainer Adrian Nicholls, racing on Silver Patch, finished ahead of the UAE’s Mohammad Ahmed Al Ketbi while in third place was Ireland’s Cian Shaun Murphy.
HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan gave away the trophies to the winners of this first-ever international pony race which will from next year be run as a ten-race series stopping all over the globe.
The 1600m HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship Final produced a close finish. Belgian jockey, Alice Bertiaux, a teacher by profession, landed the spoils, producing RB Inferno with a perfectly timed challenge to lead inside the final 200m.
They were never then going to be caught, running on strongly to win for Lemartinel who saddled the winner.
“I am very grateful to HH Sheikh Mansoor, HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak and everyone involved in the festival,” said a delighted Bertiaux. “And of course to Monsieur Lemartinel who told me how to ride the horse. RB Inferno was in great condition to win today.”
French lady jockey Ingrid Grard on Da’Areen Italian Giulia Coccia on Sanad finished second and third in the Ladies championship race.
Carrying Prestige status, the 1600m HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey Championship provided the easiest winner on the card when Denmark’s Ina Toverud stormed home on AF Yatroq, representing UAE Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and completing a double for Oertel.
Oertel said, “She has ridden that race very well and has kept the horse going all the way to the line.”
Russian Andrei Ivanov on Hamares and Algeria’s Abderrahmene Boulesbaa on AF Maher took second and third spots in the Apprentice final.
In the Festival’s Wathba Stallions Cup race for Private Owners, Antonio Fresu produced a brilliant ride aboard Ibn Harmany Al Zobair to land a first winner for the Emirates Bred Syndicate.
The day’s opening race- the UAE Martyrs Trophy was won by the Helal Al Alawi-trained Shah Jahan De Rodaim under Pat Cosgrave.
The UAE Martyrs Cup, a 1600m conditions race and the only Thoroughbred contest on the card, was won by the Doug Watson-trained Shamaal Nibras under Pat Dobbs.
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, 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 and sponsored by Ayadi LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, 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, 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 2017, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.