Heba Al Wathba wins in Abu Dhabi
Heba Al Wathba wins in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Courtesy Shamela Hanley

Dubai: The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday offered a look at future of Purebred Arabian racing in the country when it hosted the first Classics of the UAE season.

Even though spectators were limited due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the anticipation was palpable with a lot at stake for breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys in a sport that is absolutely thriving and fiercely competitive.

Thirteen UAE-bred fillies went to post to contest the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic, a Prestige event over 1,400 metres, which may have unveiled a champion for the future in the exciting winner, Heba Al Wathba.

Trained by Jean De Roualle and ridden by former UAE champion jockey Richard Mullen, the three-year-old daughter of 2014 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner Rabbah De Carrere produced an eye-popping performance to win by a cosy two-and-a-half-length margin.

Mullen’s mount was making her racecourse debut but she looked like a horse who was born to run, and compete at the highest level.

There was a lot to like about of her style and temperament which will surely make her owner and breeder Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyam, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, very proud.

“That was a very good performance,” said Mullen. “She had a good draw and I was able to get her into a nice position. And when I asked her the question she picked up nicely. “She looks a very educated filly, she knew her job. There’s still a lot of improvement to come. Jean is a master with these young horses. He brings them along gradually and he knows she’s got class. You’ll see bigger and better things to come from her in the future.”

De Roualle concurred with Mullen and said: “I really like her. It’s never easy for these horse carrying the same weight, but she did what we asked her to do and I’m extremely pleased.

“We’ll give her a lot of time to recover, perhaps maybe run her once more this year, maybe not. There’s plenty of time to make her into a Classic horse.”

Trainer Jean De Roualle, jockey Richard Mullen, celebrate Heba Al Wathba's win in Abu Dhabi
Image Credit: Courtesy Shamela Hanley

The Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, also a Prestige race over seven furlongs, was won in hugely impressive fashion by Hameem, who is now unbeaten in three career starts. Ridden by Adrie de Vries for Emirati handler Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, the three-year-old son of French stallion Valiant Boy, spread-eagled the 16-runner field crossing the line four and a quarters lengths clear of Kamau Xmnsor, the mouth of apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi.

De Vries, also known as the Flying Dutchman, lived up to his moniker aboard the winner who was having his second start in a week.

“He did it well. I was a little bit concerned backing him so quick and going back in trip,” he said. “But he must have learnt from last week as he was travelling a lot better today

“I even hit the front too soon …. He’s a proper horse, he travels good, he’s got a good kick and he’s just very easy to ride.”

Sunday’s seven-race card also featured the Wathba Stallions Cup For Private Owners Only produced a thrilling finish as Jawal Al Reef and Richard Mullen just got the better of Dream De Montjoi, the mount of Antonio Fresu.