By Duane Fonseca
Elizabeth Bernard and Gabriel Bon combined to win the Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Festival Cup with Assayel delivering the goods for owner Faysel Gurgi in the Listed 2300m contest for Purebred Arabians in late August.
The race, carrying a prize purse of €20,000, was held under the umbrella of the His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival in late August and on the same card as the 175th running of Belgium’s St Leger.
Trained by Bernard and ridden by Bon, Assayel showed solid form swooping down from the back of the field to win by a half length from the Susanna Postema Mulder trained and Kobe Vanderbeke piloted Picasso. Finishing third, a further two lengths behind, was Johan Verstrepen’s Elk Zarka DA with Koen Clijmans up.
Assayel won with a time of 2:24.75.
Lara Sawaya, the Executive Director of the Sheikh Mansoor Festival, said: “We are proud to be associated with the most historic date in Belgian racing, that of the country’s historic St Leger, which is 175 years old. This is the first time Purebred Arabian horses have raced on the same day and it is a historic moment.
“It was brilliant to see a record attendance at the Waregem Racecourse with all the health measures in place to ensure safety of racegoers. The Festival aims to promote Purebred Arabian racing around the world and the Festival is associated with some of the best tracks and racing venues around the world.”
The Sheikh Mansoor Series is held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, with the aim of supporting owners and breeders in most countries of the world, and motivating them to increase interest in the Arabian horse.
The Festival enjoys the backing of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, National Archives, Etisalat, National Feed, Emirates Airlines, Al Masaood-Nissan, Areej Al Amirat, Omair Bin Yousef Travels, Yas Channel, the General Women’s Union, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Viola Company, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club and the Emirates Arabian Horse Association.