Adu Dhabi conducts its most valuable race of the season


Adu Dhabi conducted their most valuable race of the season last weekend, the Group 1 AED 5,000,000 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (1600m) on turf for Arabian breds, and it was a cosmopolitan result.

The race was won by five-year-old entire Mashhur Al Khalediah who is trained in Newmarket by Englishman Phillip Collington and he ridden by Frenchman Jean-Bernard Eyquem, for Saudi Arabia owners Athbah Racing.

With RB Money To Burn setting a strong pace, last year’s winner Al Shamoos and this year’s victor settled in just behind, with the former making her bid for glory with about 450m remaining. However, Eyquem had her in his sights and shot to the front about 250m from home, opening up a substantial advantage in what proved a race-winning move.

His mount may have tired in the final 100m, allowing the chasing pack a glimmer of hope, but the winning post came too soon for them with Bel’Izam and Chaddad taking the minor honours. It was the winner’s first start since a third in the Arabian World Cup at Longchamp in October and his sixth overall win.

“He can start to misbehave if he is somewhere too long, so we decided to arrive quite late (into the UAE) and it has worked out,” Collington said. “This was a plan for him for a while and it has worked out perfectly.

Jean-Bernard knows this horse so well and gave him a brilliant ride and I am indebted to the owners for allowing me to train this calibre of horse. It is why I started training.”

Carrying Prestige status, the 1600m HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (IFAHR) Apprentice Jockey Championship was won for a sixth consecutive year, the latest five trained by Eric Lemartinel, by a runner owned by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in this instance Bainoona.

A six-year-old mare, who had the assistance of Italian Riccardo Iacopini, she was winning for the sixth occasion, but first since a course and distance handicap victory last December from no less than AF Maher, subsequently winner of the Group 1 Kahayla Classic at Meydan in March. Given a confident ride by the young Italian, she was eased into contention on the home turn before swooping to the lead at the 200m pole, shooting clear before seeming to get lonely close home, but never in any danger of defeat.

Iacoponi said: “I look up to some of the top Italian jockeys in the world, like Christian Demuro and Frankie Dettori. Everybody is a fan of Frankie. It was a really very good race and there was a bit of a challenge at the start, but then I managed to get the horse to do what I wanted to do and we won. It's an incredible feeling winning on my first ride on an Arabian abroad. I have ridden Arabians in the past and won at Rome's Cappanelle Racecourse, where I am based. It was the 70th win of my career for me and feels very special.”