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Abu Dhabi Hosts Second Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown
The second renewal of the race that carries world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian prize, the €1.2 million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, went to the locally-trained RB Burn at Abu Dhabi Racecourse this evening (Sunday).
Eleven Group One winners, including the highly-accomplished international raider, Al Mourtajez went to post among a quality field of 16 for the 1600m feature. But local debutant, RB Burn, was not among those to have already won at such an illustrious level.
He remedied that in style, making his first start for Abu Dhabi-based trainer, Eric Lemartinel a winning one with Gerald Avranche performing the steering in the colours of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Racing in fourth and, seemingly, traveling as well as any of the field throughout the majority of the race, Avranche angled off the rail at the top of the straight to throw down a challenge to Thakif who had led from the outset.
With 200m left to run, Avranche and RB Burn swept to the front and soon had the race in safe keeping to post a well received victory in front of a large crowd.
Top jockeys, Olivier Peslier from France and US Hall of Fame inductee, Calvin Borel had also made the trip to Abu Dhabi.
“We thought he would run well as his work had been good,” said Avranche. “Obviously this is a race we all want to win and it is a great result for the whole team.”
Lemartinel, completing a double on the evening, added: “We thought both our runners, Abhaar and RB Burn had decent chances in a very good race.
“We are just delighted to have the winner and Gerald gave him an excellent ride.”
The fixture also included the culmination of both the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship and HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (IFHRA) Apprentice Jockey Championship.
First up were the apprentices with 13 young jockeys facing the starter in a 1600m contest afforded Prestige status.
Australian Dylan Dunn will surely ride few easier winners than he did when making all on Qader, saddled by Jean de Roualle for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Given the facile way in which Qader won, it seems amazing he was actually losing his maiden tag in the process on his eighth career start and fourth in the UAE.
“This is a great initiative and I am very proud to be representing my country,” said Dunn. “To win this, in Abu Dhabi, in the colours of Sheikh Mansour is very special.
“As you can see, I am quite tall for a jockey and have had to work hard on my weight so this is a great encouragement.”
De Roualle added: “This horse has endured so many problems and we have had to work hard to get him here in this condition.
“Hopefully he has the potential to build on this now as he has undoubtedly plenty of ability.
“The jockey gave him a great ride, judging the pace to perfection and it is easy to see how he has 120 winners or more in Australia.”
Also carrying the Prestige ranking and over the same 1600m course and distance, the ladies’ race saw 15 runners go to post. For a long while it appeared that a similarly emphatic victory was on the agenda when RB Dixie Burning scooted clear at the top of the straight.
However, the mount of English rider, Catherine Walton appeared to be getting lonely in the final 200m but had enough left to withstand the flying finish of Babel D’Aillas.
Owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained by Eric Lemartinel, for whom she was initiating a memorable double, the mare has now won five of her seven career starts and at both Abu Dhabi meetings this season.
Walton said: “Tadhg O’Shea won on her last time and gave me a few pointers. She has won that pretty comfortably and it is great to be here and to ride this winner is amazing.”
Also over 1600m was the only Thoroughbred contest, a conditions race treated by many trainers as a prep race for the Listed National Day Cup over the same course and distance in three weeks.
It was won impressively by Shamaal Nibras, given a confident ride by Pat Dobbs and trained by Doug Watson for EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club).
After a season full of promise two campaigns ago, when second in the Jebel Ali Mile and his first with Watson, the horse was a bit disappointing last season and gelded over the summer.
“I was always happy throughout the race,” said Dobbs. “I had a lovely tow through into the straight and always thought I was going to get there.
“He quickened very nicely when I asked him and it was a good performance in a decent contest.”
The opening 1200m maiden provided the perfect opportunity for AF Mukhifah to win on just her second racecourse appearance having finished well beaten, on debut, over 1400m at Abu Dhabi in March.
Homebred, she was a fourth winner of the season already for owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and another for trainer Ernst Oertel with jockey Richard Mullen, who has an agreement with the owner and Oertel this season when he is available to ride, in the saddle.
Mullen said: “She did it nicely in the end and you always know when riding for Ernst in these races that you have some kind of chance.
“It is the perfect start to a big evening here at Abu Dhabi.”
Owner and trainer were back in the winner’s enclosure after the following 1200m handicap but, with Mullen required to ride for his main employer, Satish Seemar, apprentice Lyle Hewitson was aboard the winner, Ibn Harmany Al Zobair.
Having his tenth career start, Hewitson’s mount was actually winning for the first time and, ironically, was chased home by Mullen aboard the Seemar-trained Extra Hope.
Having his first ride in the UAE, Hewitson said: “Obviously I am delighted and have to thank the owner and trainer for this opportunity.”