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WITH THE 2020 British Flat racing season now put to bed, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s securing fourth place in the owners’ championship gave plenty to celebrate as the New Year set in with Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, showering immense praise on the Jebel Ali Racecourse patron for what was a stellar year both internationally and locally. Sheikh Ahmed’s bright yellow silks flourished at the international level with Addeybb, trained by William Haggas, contributing massively with victory in four of his five starts.

Three of those wins were in Group One events starting in Australia with the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill in March, followed by the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick a month later. Second in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the 6yo Pivotal gelding bounced back in September’s Listed Doonside Cup Stakes at Ayr, with the perfect ending a month later when he won the Champion Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot.

Apart from Addeybb’s heroics, the Simon and Ed Crisford trained-Maamora won the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown in August, with Jadoomi, also trained by the pair, finishing the victor in the Haras de Bouquetot at ParisLongchamp in October. Nahaarr, another Haggas trainee, won the prestigious Ayr Gold Cup Handicap in September, another victory Al Shehhi, who is the director general of the office of Sheikh Ahmed and his racing manager in the UAE, feels is a win that contributed to making 2020 a memorable one for Sheikh Ahmed.

He said: “It has been an exceptional year for the yellow silks of HH Sheikh Ahmed. “I think finishing fourth in the owners’ championship in the UK is something very big and that’s where the yellow colours belong. “It’s a great effort led by HH Sheikh Ahmed and the whole team, including Mr Aziz Mirza who heads operations in England.

Full credit to him and his team and I am very honoured and pleased to be part of this team. “The year started really well in Australia with Addeybb winning a couple of Group One races, including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes which is a very, very prestigious race, and then all the horses in the UK ran very well too. We had some nice 3yo horses that won many races.

“The highlight for me will be Addeybb winning the British Champion Stakes on Champions Day and there have been many other notable wins like Nahaarr’s victory in the Ayr Gold Cup and Jadoomi winning the Haras de Bouquetot at ParisLongchamp ahead of the Arc weekend. I think we had a very, very good year; 44 wins at a strike rate of 29% is very good.”

Locally, too, the yellow brigade has been in top form this season, with Sheikh Ahmed’s resident UAE conditioner Nicholas Bachalard scoring five times in 17 dispatches, with a further four seconds and two third places to come from that. Bachalard and resident rider Ryan Curatolo have had much success together with the pair winning Sheikh Ahmed the Listed Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup with Boerhan.

“We have started the UAE season very well too and we’ve had some good luck at our Jebel Ali stable. We’ve had some nice runners that have brought good results.” And Al Shehhi can only hope the winning momentum carries forward into 2021. “We have a strong team of horses which Sheikh Ahmed decided to keep in the UK and we will race them there next year.

There are some good 2yos that have just turned three like Zamaani and Jadoomi and we are looking forward to a very interesting and successful year. “Even the yearlings that just turned juveniles next year have good pedigree on their side with some top bloodlines like Kingman, Galileo, Exceed And Excel and these will join the yards of our trainers next season so we are looking forward to next season with great excitement and are hoping all goes well for Sheikh Ahmed.”