Victories by Swiss lady, Australian teenager reflect global character of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival
HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak World Championships
A lady jockey Switzerland and a young Apprentice jockey from Australia, made their respective Continents proud with superb victories on the Asian Continent on Sunday reiterating the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival’s ‘One World, 6 Continents’ tag.
On a night when the world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians was held, Astrid Wullschleger proved that her win in her home country earlier in the year was no fluke as she topped a globe-trotting pack of lady riders to win the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) final at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club race course on Sunday, November 8.
Astrid Wullschleger and Najm Alemarat
The Swiss professional Wullschleger on the Eric Lemartinel-trained Najm Alemarat, owned by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, did well to finish ahead of the US pair of lady jockeys –Rebecca Smith and Sandee Martin- and win the prestigious trophy in a series that stopped at 13 venues around the globe before Sunday’s final.
Smith on the Nacer Samiri-trained Haizoom came up with a late burst to deny second place to another Lemartinel runner Molahen El Alhan under Martin.
It was a great result for trainer Eric Lemartinel who saddled the first, third and fourth in the 13-horse field which had a prize fund of UAE Dirhams 200,000 on offer for the 1600-metre turf contest.
“The plan was to try and lead,” said Wullschleger. “However, they went very fast early on so I was happy to be patient and it worked out perfectly.
“It has been a great week and wonderful evening,” the 2015 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Champion said.
Earlier in the 11-furlong HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak (IFAHR) Apprentice Jockey Championship final it was 17-year-old Ben Thompson from Down Under who stole the thunder with a fantastic finish ahead of 11 other Apprentice jockeys.
Ben Thompson and Ak Akdour
Racing on the lesser fancied Ak Akdour from Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s stable, Thompson seemed to make the difference after he seized a gap in the final furlong and then helped his tiring horse to stay on and notch up his second win in nine starts.
Trainer Nacer Samiri’s pair of Hanoof under Moroccan Ommar Lakjal and Merzal under French jockey Isis Magnin finished second and third behind Ak Adour.
“The jockey did exactly as I told him and it was a perfect effort,” said Al Mehairbi.
Based in Victoria, Thompson is attached to the stable run by seasoned jockey Craig Williams’ father Alan.
Thompson, who had won the opening race of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak (IFAHR) Apprentice Jockey Championship series in Lexington, USA said, “The trainer warned me I would have to work quite hard and push the horse and it proved the case but I was prepared.”
“It is great to even be here on such an occasion. To win is just fantastic,” said the Apprentice who came to the UAE capital with 65 wins under his belt.
HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan gave the trophies to all the winners. HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan received the trophy for Najm Alemarat’s win.
Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) hailed the two new world champions.
“Wullschleger and Thompson have proved their class and what a great evening of racing. The ‘One World, 6 Continents’ tag for the Festival has been so appropriate. “A Swiss lady jockey on a horse owned by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and trained by a French jockey; an Australian 17-year-old Apprentice jockey giving a UAE trainer and owner a win, all go to reflect what a global event the Festival is,” Ms Sawaya said.
“All credit for the success of the Festival goes to HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and Head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, who far-sighted initiatives have borne fruit,” she added.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC, Bloom, Petromal, Rise General Trading Co. LLC, Hayatna, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE's General Women's Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2015, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Yas Channel, Omeir Travels, Racing Post and Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics.
Source: HH SH Mansoor Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival / Satya Narayan
Photo: Morhaf Al Assaf