Sharjah It was a case of mission accomplished for Saudi Arabia’s powerful Al Khalediah Stables after homebred Mubasher Al Khalediah scored a thrilling victory over stable companion Morheb Al Khalediah to win the inaugural running of the Dh200,000 GCC Cup Sponsored by Shadwell, on Saturday.
With the talented Abdullah Al Fairoz in the saddle the handsome four-year-old was doing the best work in a tight three-horse finish, to cross the line half a length clear of Morheb Al Khaladeiah, with the Khalid Al Nabooda’s homebred AF Maher, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, running on for third.
“We came here to win this race, and that’s what we did,” said an ecstatic Shaikh Mutlaq Bin Mashref, trainer of the Al Khalediah Stables.
“It feels great to win such a prestigious race which is a wonderful initiative. We knew that the competition would be strong so we brought some of our strongest horses to the UAE. Horses from the Al Khalediah Stables have been winning races around Europe, but winning this race was extra special, as it was the GCC Cup,” he added.
“I believe that the race can only get better and stronger in the future and will be top of the agenda for homebred Arab horses. We look forward to coming back again next year to defend our title.
“But for the moment, let us enjoy being the first winners of the GCC Cup, it is indeed a great, great honour and one that we are immensely proud of,” said Mashref.
Speaking through a translator, Al Fairoz said: “I dedicate this first win in the UAE, a great horse racing country, with my very first ride, to my family back in Saudi Arabia.
“Without their support I could not have reached this far. This is for them.
“My horse ran a big race and although it was very close approaching the line I was confident that he would get there first. I’m very excited.”
Mashref said that he had a good feeling about racing in the UAE and that he was looking forward to returning next month for the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan Racecourse on March 30 where he will attempt back-to-back victories in the Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1), having won the 2018 running with Tallaab Al Khalediah.
“We’ll be back soon, hopefully with two horses, Tallaab Al Khalediah and Murad Al Khalediah,” he said. “The Kahayla Classic is the race every Purebred Arabian owner, trainer and jockey wants to win. Hopefully we will come back strong and win it for Al Khalediah Stables, and prove that horses bred in Saudi Arabia are among the best Arab race horses in the world.”
A GCC Cup was a 1,700m race with Prestige status and restricted to horses foaled within the GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, the UAE.
Sultan Mohammad Khalifa Al Yahyai, general manager of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, hailed the inaugural running of the Cup a big success.
“The GCC Cup is great idea from our Chairman Shaikh Abdullah Majid Al Qasimi,” said Al Yahyai. “We had a strong field lining up and it could not have been a more thrilling finish.
“This is what horse racing is and we hope that it will be a great advertisement for the concept of having a high-class race exclusively for homebred Arabs. It proves that Arabian racing is getting stronger and stronger. There are more horses, owners and jockeys than ever before and the numbers are growing rapidly.
“This race can only get better and better in the years to come.”
The GCC Cup Sponsored by Shadwell
1Purse: Dh200,000 (Purebred Arabian, Prestige) 1700M Dirt
1. Mubasher Al Khalediah (M Bin Mashref) Abdullah Al Fairoz
2. Morheb Al Khalediah (M bin Mashref) Abdullah Al Odhaib
3. AF Maher (E Oertel) Tadhg O’Shea
4. Shareq Al Khalediah (L Marouane) Royston Ffrench
Distances: 1/2 length, 1/2L, 2 1/2L.
Winning time: 01:57:77 secs.