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Glorious double for Al Shaqab Racing.

Raajiv Tripathi


Al Shaqab Racing nailed a glorious double to celebrate their first anniversary as the eight-day-long HH the Emir International Equestrian Sword Festival, under the patronage of the Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, came to a stimulating end on Thursday.

Two Group 1 races - the Emir's Trophy for Thoroughbreds and the Emir's Sword for Pure Arabians are the biggest races of the Festival and the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club's calendar.

With His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al Thani and His Excellency Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani among a big assembly of dignitaries and high-profile guest watching the final day's racing, world-famed jockey Frankie Dettori maintained Dubday's unbeaten run in the QR2-million Emir's Trophy with a brilliant dash.

And then Julien Auge guided newcomer Al Mourtazez to the QR 3-million Emir's Sword with a start-to-finish lead. This was his second victory in as many starts in Qatar after piloting Mister Ginoux to the triumph on Wednesday.

Defending champion Dubday, with five winners in as many races here, was favourite for the title again. Waiting patiently during the race, in which the pace was set by Al Busayyir (Alberto Sanna), Dettori kept Dubday early in the middle of the pack and then went outside so that he had the clear passage for his sprint.

Soon after entering the home stretch, it was Peter Anders who launched the burst. Ponfeigh also shot ahead and just as Ponfeigh was about to pass, Dubday unleashed his sprint.

With his astonishing kick, Dubday moved to the front. Both Ponfeigh and Peter Anders attempted to challenge him but the Al Shaqab Racing star wasn't to be caught by either, edging to a neck win over Ponfeight. Peter Anders was third by half a length. Right To Dream and Danadana were fourth and fifth respectively.

Dettori, Al Shaqab Racing Manager Harry Herbert and trainer Jassim al Ghazali were all delighted that Dubday delivered it again. Herbert said,"Frankie is Frankie he is magician. He got a wide draw but and having to use a lot of gas to come up and then winning the race was an awesome ride."

Ghazali said about the victory,"My God gave me everything today. Five winners on a big day like this is delightful. Dubday is a champion horse. Last year, he won three and this year also, he won three. Many are trying to beat him but have not been successful."

The field for the Emir's Sword was relatively small as only seven runners were in the fray for the biggest race of the season. Auge pushed Al Mourtazez and brought him close to the railing, controlling the race from there.

In the beginning, Al Majh'Hoor (Richard Mullen) kept pace with Al Mourtazez. And when the time for the action approached, Al Mourtazez sustained his push and stayed ahead of the pack. Djainka Des Forges, the 2013 Qatar Derby winner, who has been entered by trainer Julian Smart in a bid to win the race for the for the fourth time in last five years and a third time for HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Thani, darted up and overtook Al Majh'Hoor.

There was a hot battle between Al Mourtazez and Djainka Des Forges but it was Al Shaqab Racing's five-year-old grey horse who managed to hold his challenger off and won the race by about one and a half lengths in an exciting finale. Al Majh'Hoor came third, while Dettori led Farh to the fourth place and Taraf rounded out the top five.

Herbert, pleased by Al Shaqab Racing's grand double, said,"I'm so thrilled. This is very special for Sheikh Joaan. To have a double at home and in front of his fans is very, very special indeed. The Emi's Sword for Purebred Arabians is the race of all the races and Al Mourtazez was very impressive winner today.

Rider Auge said,"It was fantastic to win here."

Trainer Fourcy said,"It was just a magic. His strength is to quicken the pace. This horse is really very competitive and likes to push even when he is ahead.

"It is only two years since he has been training him but it feels good to win two races. I don't know about the future plan if he will continue training or get a break. But the Qatar Arabian World Cup is definitely my long term target," added Fourcy.

Earlier, the Ghazali-Harry Bentley pair pulled off the first three races of the day. But their run was snapped by Majed (O Peslier), who beat Masnoon in the Emir's Trophy by one length for the only success for Umm Qarn Farm today.

Crescent was guided to the victory by Gerald Avranche in the Emir's Shalfa Trophy, ahead of Itorio (Stephan Ladjadj) and Lieutenant Kaffee (O Peslier). But Bentley returned to the winner's circle with Al Murabitoon finished one and a half lengths in front of Ain Jalout in the Emir's Silver Sword race.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Feb 27, 2015
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