By Duane Fonseca
Trainer Philip Collington saluted Mashhur Al Khalediah after the Saudi raider held on to win the Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, one of the most prestigious prizes in Purebred Arabian racing under Jean-Bernard Eyquem at Abu Dhabi Sunday night.
Eric Lemartinel’s RB Money To Burn seized the lead soon after the gates flew open in the 1600m contest at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club with Mashhur Al Khalediah hot on his heels and looking rather comfortable. Eyquem got his mount to travel well and was quickly gaining ground on the leaders, taking over with 300m left and running on gamely even as pressure came from the Jim Crowley-ridden Bel’Izam, trained by Damien De Watrigant. The pair pushed until the end but all Crowley could do was close the gap to a half length at the post. Salem bin Ghadayer’s Chaddad was a neck behind in third under Mickael Barzalona.
Winning trainer Collington said: “It’s unbelievable. He was a baby at the start of the year and immature and has improved and improved.
“When he won in Baden Baden beating Bel’Izam we realised he was a Group One horse. This is my third runner in Abu Dhabi and ninth Group winner overall.
“He's already run in seven races this year and we have to give him a break. We will speak with the Prince about where he goes next but I won't rule out the Kahayla Classic because he trains on dirt. He's a very big horse and got a lovely big stride. His gate speed is electric and once he goes he's well on his way.”
Racing began with the only Thoroughbred contest on the card a 2200m handicap which was won by Erwan Charpy’s Mudaarab, who had HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s retained rider Jim Crowley in the saddle.
With Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Skygazer leading the pack into the home straight under Fernando Jara, Crowley knew he had his work cut out.
And the former British Champion Jockey came up with the goods in time, taking up the running in the final 100m to win by a length from Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Conclusion, who carried Szczepan Mazur. Skygazer was a nose behind in third.
The rest of the races on the card were Purebred Arabian contests, the first of which was the Wathba Stallions Cup, a 1400m handicap, which was won by the Hassan Saleh Al Hammadi-trained and Richard Mullen ridden Jawal Al Reef, who finished before Ernst Oertel’s pair of Noof KB and AF Ashras with Adrie de Vries and Brett Doyle in the saddle respectively.
Trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi enjoyed a 1-3 in the UAE Martyrs Trophy, a 1600m maiden, with Salima Al Reef, the ride of Jesus Rosales, taking victory by a neck from the Connor Beasley ridden Ezz Al Rawasi and Rayqa following in next a short head behind in third under Pat Cosgrave.
Eric Lemartinel scalped both Sheikh Mansoor Festival sponsored World Championship races with Bainoona and Asyyad winning the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey Championship and HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship. Both were Purebred Arabian Prestige races over 1600m.
Bainoona settled in the rear early on but Italian rider Riccardo Iacopini expertly led her to the front with 200m left and the mare ran on well for victory by a length from Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s El Faust, who had Conor McGovern in the saddle. In third place a further length behind was Jean De Roualle’s Harrab carrying Hanna Martensson.
Lemartinel earned his double courtesy of Victoria Larsen of Denmark, who got Asyyad to lead with 500m left and ensured the gelding built a sizeable lead that saw him win by three and a quarter lengths from Abdullah Al Hammadi’s Helen Bohler ridden Bushrah Al Reef. In third place a further length and a quarter behind was another Lemartinel runner in RB Grynade, who had Zineb El Briouil aboard.