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Newbury gives Shaikh Hamdan a double delight

Hajras and Muarrab come up trumps in high profile races

Image Credit: Courtesy Dubai Duty Free
Colm McLoughlin, Salah Tahlak and Sinead El Sibai presenting the trophy to HE Mirza Al Sayegh on winning the DDF Handicap Stakes.
Gulf News

Newbury, England: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, scored a noteworthy double on the final day of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend at Newbury on Saturday, which included a special victory with Hajras in the richest race of the day, the £70,000 (Dh417,239) Dubai Duty Free Handicap.

Shaikh Hamdan, who helped pioneer the Dubai International Arabian Raceday, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary at Newbury on Sunday, also saw his colours carried to victory by Muarrab in the Heatherwold Stud Handicap Stakes.

Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Shaikh Hamdan, received the Dubai Duty Free Handicap trophy from Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, Salah Tahlak and Sinead El Sibai.

“It’s always nice to see the colours of His Highness Shaikh Hamdan carried to victory at any racecourse, but it’s extra special to win here at Newbury, a racecourse that he has a long association with as it is home to the Dubai International Arabian Raceday.

“Unfortunately, Shaikh Hamdan was not here to see his horses win, but I’m sure he will be happy with the results,” he said.

Hajras is trained by Mark Johnston in the north of England at Middleham and was ridden by Shaikh Hamdan’s retained rider Paul Hanagan.

Meanwhile, popular Dubai owner Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s hopes of winning a first British Classic were given a timely boost when Moohaajim ran out a compelling winner of the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes on Saturday.

Sent off as the warm 5-2 favourite, the son of Cape Cross did well to negotiate a tricky situation two furlongs out when he found himself behind a wall of frontrunners. Jockey Alan Kirby kept his cool and found an opening on the outside which allowed his horse to pick up and find his gear before pulling clear to win by a length and three quarters from Master Of War and the Yarmouth maiden winner Taayel.

British bookmakers responded by giving him a quote of 25-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas behind the 7-1 favourite Dawn Approach who is trained by Irish great Jim Bolger for Godolphin.

Trainer Marco Botti was delighted and said the ground would decide where he goes with Moohaajim.

“Adam said it was straightforward, they didn’t go quick but he showed a tremendous turn of foot,” said Botti.

“He’s in the Dewhurst and the Middle Park, and the ground will be key as he wouldn’t want it too heavy.

“I imagine he will stay over here to run in the top races next year and I think he should stay a little bit further.”

One of the most thrilling races of the afternoon was the Group 3 Dubai International Airport Trophy which was won by the gutsy Swiss Spirit, who just edged out Kingsgate Native to give jockey William Buick his 100th winner of the season.

The two-day meeting brought the curtains down on Dubai Duty Free’s sponsorship of racing round the world, which began in the spring at the Dubai World Cup Carnival with its support for the $5 million (Dh18.36 million) Dubai Duty Free Turf and progressed through Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot.