Home team has Annus Mirabilis; Mark Johnson reviews the 1998 Arab season.
Newmarket's "big three" arab trainers-Gill Duffield, Gillian Hay and Sarah Kelleway-have all won top races in Europe this year.
And considering only one of Britain's ten International arab races this year was won by a foreign-trained horse (Jean-Pierre Totain's French-trained Maleeh in the International Challenge Derby at Newmarket), 1998 has been an Annus Mirabilis for British arab racing on the International scene.
The domestic arab season started about a month earlier this year with a single International race on a midweek thoroughbred card at Leicester.
It was cold and the ground was heavy but the performance of the debutante winner Djelmila in beating Shunah and Djai Lotois was, in hindsight, one of the highlights of the season in this country.
Umm Qarn Racing, owners of Djelmila, underwrote the Leicester race to ensure that their horse could get an early prep-race in before a crack at the French Arab Derby, at Chantilly, at the end of May.
On Sunday May 31-Prix du Jockey Club day-the strategy of Umm Qarn's racing manager Val Bunting and Gillian Hay paid dividends as Djelmila (a beautifully- bred four-year-old filly by former French champion Manganate out of leading French racemare Cherifa) came from last to first to take the 11-furlong Derby des Pur-Sang Arab under Olivier Peslier.
Djelmila beat Yagouri two lengths with French favourite Maleeh a neck back in third. Britain's other runner Djai Lotois, finished fifth.
This was only the second time a British-trained horse had won the French Arab Derby. Bill Smith saddled Passem Lotois to win in 1994.
Earlier, Djebbel, in the same maroon and white spotted colours of Qatar- based Umm Qarn Racing, won his second Prix du President over nine furlongs.
He was also ridden by Peslier and trained by Alban de Mieulle. However, the enigmatic Djebbel was transferred to Hay's yard for his next run- in British arab racing's Blue Ribband-the 10-furlong Dubai International at Newbury on Sunday July 19.
The first of the featured International races that day was the Hatta International for fillies and mares. The race went to Djelmila (Seb Sanders) taking her career record to three out of three.
Djebbel (a six-year-old son of Djelfor out of Cherifa) was produced with a perfectly-timed run to pip Falina des Fabries by a head in the Dubai.
Hay saddled the odds-on Makzan (with Sanders up) in the Zaabeel International. But Makzan failed by a short head to land the spoils. The winner was Umm Qarn's 25-1 "second-string" Al Hanoof under Steve Drowne, also trained by Hay.
But the wheels definitely came off the Umm Qarn train at the next big meeting.
An 11th-hour injury meant Djebbel missed the Al Nahyan International over a mile, the first of three International races on Newmarket's July Course at the UAE Festival meeting in August. He now retires to Umm Qarn's Old Lodge Farm stud in Surrey.
The race (the first of two arab races covered live from Newmarket on the Racing Channel) went to Gill Duffield's Gormane de Tanues under Richard Hills.
Richard's twin brother Michael replaced Jean-Rene Dubosc aboard Maleeh in the next race-the inaugural running of the International Challenge Derby over 10 furlongs.
Djelmila, the 4-7 favourite ridden by Steve Drowne, swerved left inside the final furlong allowing Maleeh (4yrs by Dahman El Arami ex Mangalie D'Albret) to win three lengths.
Another International race winner at HQ was Falina des Fabries, trained by Gill Duffield. The Dubai runner-up took the 12-furlong Abu Dhabi International enroute to victory in the Coupe d'Al Asayl at the Craon Festival in France.
This was Falina des Fabries (5yrs by Dormane ex Valina des Fabries) second successive win in the 11-furlong Craon race.
In 1998, the Brits have also scored in Denmark, Germany and Austria. Al Hanoof took the Hobbs Melville Arabian International Sprint, over seven furlongs, at Arhus in Denmark with Djelmila second in the 11-furlong International.
Sarah Kelleway, who at home secured a record seventh trainers' title with 34 domestic winners, was also successfully clocking up the air miles. Both Djai Lotois and Cheri du Loup won for her in Germany while the latter became the first British-trained arab winner in Austria last Saturday (full result below).
On Sunday Gill Duffield plan's a three-strong raid (all owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum) on France's final two big Internationals of the season run at Toulouse. She runs Gagman in the Prix Manganate, and is double-handed in the Criterium des Pouliches with Bisbille and Maheba de Piboul.
The ground at Toulouse is reported as heavy for the two valuable 10-furlong races which should suit the Duffield team. Gagman has a great chance in the Prix Manganate while Maheba de Piboul is preferred to Bisbille in the Criterium.
Duffield may have finished runner-up to Kelleway in the trainers' table but her stable jockey Simon Walker beat Kelleway by 35 winners to 25 in the jockeys' title race.
This is Walker's third successive arab jockeys' title.
Third in the jockeys' table was former champion point-to-point rider and professional jump jockey John Bryan.
He is one of most effective riders around and his galvanising of the stayers Frere de Loups and Vent Dredy at Newbury on Dubai Day and of El Moquarrab at Newmarket were three of the most impressive riding performances seen in "amateur" arab races for some time.
ARAB SEASON'S STATISTICS
Miss S Kelleway 34
Mrs G Duffield 28
W Smith 18
Mrs G Hay 12
D Harrington 9
Mrs J Scrase 7
H Owen 5
Mrs A Cook 4
A Kirkham 4
S Walker 35
Miss S Kelleway 25
J Bryan 16
A S Holdsworth 12
C Jenkins 7
P Deymonaz 6
G Holmes 5
J Owen 5
Leading professional jockeys in Arab races
R Hills 3
S Drowne 2
S Sanders 2
M Hills 1
G Hind 1
J Quinn 1
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 16, 1998|
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