Racing Post: live blog

HH Sheikh Mansoor Finals

    Welcome to our live blog bringing you all the action from this year's HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s "One World, 6 Continents, Abu Dhabi The Capital" extravaganza.
    We'll give you live updates from all the happenings this week including the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Conference on education and development which has an all-star panel including Chantal Sutherland (the Highest Earner as a Professional Female Jockey) and Julie Krone, the first female jockey to win a US Triple Crown race and a Hall of Famer.
    The week culminates in the richest race in the world for Purebred Arabians, the €1.2m Group 1 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Crown Jewel-IPIC which features a hot field of 2015 champion Kalino, who returns to defend his title and US Triple Jewel winner Paddys Day and Dubai Kahayla Classic winner AF Mathmoon forming a small part of the 16 horse field.
    Stay here to read all the action. 
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    This morning we're at the National Archive Conference Hall for the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Conference for Training and Education.
    All the action kicks off at 10.00am with a welcome speech from Abdull Da Alraisi, Director General of the National Archive. 
    Speakers today include;
    Marcel De Bruyne, Director - Belgium Jockey Club
    Richard Mullen, Professional Jockey Ambassador for HH Sheilh Mansoor
    Yasser Mabrouk, Head of the Arabic Department, Emirate Racing Association
    Kai Schirmann, Director - German Jockey School
    Pat Buckley, Racing Director - Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club


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    Derek Thompson, mediated session one of the conference and began by reflecting on the injuries incurred by Freddy Tylicki at Kempton Park two weeks ago.
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    Tommo poses the question; “What can be done to prevent such injuries?"
    Jockey Richie Mullen is quick to highlight that this was an isolated incident, that accidents of this severity are not common place. He also talks about the difference in race track surfaces that a synthetic surface can be like glue, not allowing for the bounce and roll effect that the turf provides. This is later highlighted by Derby winning jockey John Reid, stating that when both horses and jockeys fall on an artificial surface, they hit the ground in a stationery movement.
    Mullen also asks the question; are body protectors to stiff and too heavy? When a jockey falls, the momentum at which they fall often cause the body protectors to move forward impacting on the next. Are these a factor in neck and/or spinal injuries he questions?
    Derek Thompson - "Tommo"
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    Next question from Tommo to the panel, “Can we make racecourses safer?”
    Pat Buckley answers that he doesn’t think it’s a racecourse issue but an issue of properly educating riders. Jockeys must be taught how to properly race ride and they need to know the difference between being brave and stupid – when is making move being brave and when is it stupid? He recalls his own days of racing, reflecting on some of his decisions and shouting for room jumping an open ditch during steeplechases.
    Yasser Mabrouk adds to Pat’s reply by stating there is not a 100% solution to the problem. He mentions having tighter rules for race riding, adequate safety equipment and talks about tight race tracks being a concern. He reiterates Buckley’s point of the necessary health and fitness of jockeys and the proper education of these riders.
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    Continuing from Tommo’s question of “Can we make racecourses safer?”
    Richie Mullen says that jockeys are competitive, they want to win and so bunching occurs because jockeys don’t want to lose ground. Furthermore, he highlights that a jockey is a jockey because of this fact, they want to win.
    He acknowledges the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice series and the work that is being done by the team. He finishes by saying that the standard of coaching in the series is on a whole new level for apprentices.
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    Derby winning jockey turned jockey coach, John Reid also spoke about the competitiveness of jockeys and how clipping heels does happen, especially as everyone wants to win. He states that he explains to his charges not to get too close and too give each other some room. He has strong beliefs on teaching young jockeys to look after each other and to try to ensure everyone comes home safe. “It’s important that apprentices learn to race ride correctly, no pushing or shoving and to watch for your horse and yourself”. The stewarding on race tracks is also a huge part of preventing accidents as it maintains the rules of racing for everyone’s safety are his finishing words.
    Kai Schirmann a Director of the German Jockey School points out that all jockeys must know the track they are riding and so it is imperative to walk the course at which they are to ride.
    John Reid
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    “Should apprentices have ridden the horse which they are scheduled to ride in a race prior to the event?” Is the next question posed by Tommo.
    Mullen is quick to answer saying there is no excuse for not knowing the horse you are due to ride due to the large amount of information available. Replays are available online, as is form and there is also advice from professionals who have ridden the horse previously – many of which may be in the weigh room on the day.
    Belgium Jockey Club representative Marcel De Bruyne builds on Mullen’s point of which the trainer is also available to the jockey for advice and insight on the horse but it is the responsibility of the trainer to make sure the horse is educated before it gets to the track.
    Yasser ponders the conditions for apprentices in the UAE of which he would like to see more apprentice races. He makes a fine point when saying there should be different levels of apprenticeships that are stewarded, this would mean that stewards would decide when an apprentice would be experienced and able enough to handle a sharper track or one which would require more tactical riding.
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    The discussion turns more towards the health and fitness of jockeys and Buckley compares the "old days" when he was riding to current times. He recalls riding four or five horses a morning for an hour and a half at a time and schooling (over jumps) 10-15 horse on a Sunday morning whereas now an average ride out lasts 30 minutes or so.
    Mullen again adds value to the statement when showing the audience that in recent years jockeys have become more akin to professional sportsmen with a huge focus on health. These elite levels of fitness that jockeys such as AP McCoy and Ryan Moore have demonstrated has allowed them to recover from injury in a far shorter time period because they are so fit when the injury occurs. 
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    A series of questions and answers completes the morning session with several professionals from all over the world contributing their own experiences and expertise.
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    The topic for discussion in Session 2 is Jockeys - High Performance Athletes at the Top and is mediated by Gary Capewell.
    Taking part are;
    Remi Bellocq, Exec. Dir. North American Racing Academy
    Melissa Weatherly, Athlete Development and Industry Careers Advisor, Racing Victoria
    Anna Velasquez, School Director, Puerto Rico Jockey School
    Richard Mullen, Professional jockey Ambassador of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival
    Julie Krone, Hall of fame jockey, Ambassarice of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival


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    Julie Krone, the only female winner of an American Classic, reflects on her introduction to racing. From an Arabian show horse background she found that the switch to thoroughbreds was natural due to the free spirited nature of thoroughbreds.
    She emphasises the importance of horsemanship advising the crowd to pay attention to the way a horse moves and thinks and be aware of the specific attitude of each horse. “Addressing what the horse needs, is a sure way to be successful.”
    Krone further advises that the ride starts once the horse sees you and the importance of total involvement in being with the horse, specifically in a mental capacity. She believes the horse knows what your intentions are and so everything you do means something to the horse.
    Krone repeats her use of natural horsemanship, believing that these techniques of mirroring horses behaviour, rewarding the good and ignoring the bad have allowed her to get to the top of the racing game - coupled with a lot of hard work!
    Julie Krone
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    Richie Mullen, like most young boys in the UK had dreams of becoming a footballer. However, two weeks work experience with Donald McCain soon changed his mind.
    Being too light to be a jumps jockey Mullen began a career on the flat after completing a term at the Northern Racing Jockey and later joined the stable of Michael Bell. 
    He remembers the turmoil of riding a lot of bad horses but tells the crowd that anyone can ride a good horse, it's the bad ones that require riding and attributes his effortless skill to these early efforts. 
    A forward thinker, he asks why do professional jockeys not have coaches like stars of other sports? He mentions golfers, swimmers, footballers as all constantly working with experts to further improve themselves as athletes. 
    It is imperative to keep learning, "work hard and conduct yourself in the right manner" he advises, "good things happen to good people".
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    Melissa Weatherly educates the guests about the apprentice programme in Victoria, Australia. 
    Many of her points rang true with the crowd, especially her emphasis on acknowledging jockeys and apprentices as elite athletes. "We make a conscious effort to make sure that jockeys are known as elite athletes and that they recognise themselves as so."
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    Melissa described the apprenticeship programme for jockeys in Victory which is traditionally a four year programme of training and support along with actual race riding. The apprenticeship is all encompassing, focusing on developing a career after racing and managing the work life balance of the young riders all alongside the standard teachings and securities offered by the apprenticeship. 
    The success of the course has been outstanding with two current apprentices and two recent graduates all riding in this year's Caulfield Cup.
    Melissa Weatherly (far right)
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    Director of the Puerto Rico Jockey School Anna Velasquez displayed a tremendous attitude and passion for her school and jockeys as she described the dedication the school has towards ensuring a successful future for their young riders.
    "We work with what we have" says Anna, which is 11 horses, two instructors and an ability to know that through raising the level of education and the school curriculum they have inadvertently raised the skill set of their students as people and as jockeys. The 24 month course also provides a real race day experience for the pupils and it is not surprise that Johnny Velasquez and the Ortiz brothers are graduates of the establishment. 
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    Remi Bellocq finished the session with some rock hard truths "We can teach a lot of things, but we can't teach talent" and so highlighted the importance of thinking about what happens after race riding. 
    This is taught throughout the Kentucky based North America Racing Academy and Remi makes a point of instilling in his students and understanding of the whole race day experience. Each student visits every department of the race track at Keeneland and understands the co-ordination and mechanics in place to create what we know as simply a day at the races. In doing so, the students at the academy can see the options and opportunities they have within the industry even after a race riding career.
    Remi Bellocq (right)
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    The third session of the day focused on Controlled Jockey Diet, Weight Control & Nutrition and was moderated by Australian racing presenter Victoria Shaw.
    The panel included;
    Dr. George Wilson, John Moores Liverpool University Researcher
    Chantal Sutherland, Highest Earner Professional Female Jockey),
    Xavier Ziani,  Professional Jockey and Ambassador of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival
    Acaena Amoros and Mahi Aramideh, both  from Elixir London Clinic
    Dr. Jamal Hout, NAET Practitioner
    Jockey Weight Control Panel
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    Chantal Sutherland got the ball rolling when explaining that forming bad eating habits in your youth can affect the performance of the thyroid, metabolism and have a mental impact on the individual.
    She follows this with her own experience stating that she has found the best way for her to maintain good health is through exercise and certain forms of activity do not suit her and so through trying different types of exercise she found she could get optimum results through cardio and hot yoga. She tells the apprentices that just because it's good for one person it does not necessarily mean it's good for you.
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    Xavier Ziani was quick to highlight the importance of water and hydration to jockeys which became a recurring theme throughout the session. 
    He played on his own personal experiences here in the Middle East where the hot temperatures make your body crave water and so water retention may then become a problem when re-hydrating the body after a period of wasting. 
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    Dr. Wilson added a scientific perspective to the discussion and made a short presentation where he dispelled a largely believed myth of the racing fraternity "Starving and chronic weight dehydration to make weight are not essential and are cultural habits!" Making weight can be achieved through a simple plan of six small but well balanced meals a day and a certain amount of exercise along with race and exercise riding.
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    Mahi and Acaena have noticed a boost in those who look for a more clinical environment for nutrition and so have developed intravenous nutrition both in the UK and the UAE. This form of nutrition played a significant role in the health improvements of both cancer and HIV patients and is now becoming a more sought after nutritional aid for athletes. 
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    Session 4 resumes tomorrow and will focus on PR and the Media for Racing Industry Recruitment. The moderator will be Philip Branwell. 
    In between, guests will enjoy Salsa Night at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel.
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    The panel this morning includes;
    Derek Thompson, TV Presenter 
    Laura King, TV Presenter, Dubai Racing Channel
    Tony Smurthwaite, Managing Editor Racing Post
    Jean Claude Allies, Paris Turf
    Enrico Cuerci, 
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    Tony Smurthwaite comments on the media experience of apprentices in their first race rides they have approximately one hour of media training. Riding obviously takes precedence and media training is a distant second but it can be forgotten the huge impact the media can have on their career as a professional jockey. An accomplished speaker or an apprentice who has the appropriate media training can use the press to kick-start their own career.
    He told the riders to say “HEY” be Honest, be Engaging and be Yourself when dealing with the media.
    Tony Smurthwaite
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    Tommo speaks about elite jockeys such as Ryan Moore and Kieran Fallon (when he was riding) and how they don’t have hugely positive relationships with the media. He warns about the impacts this has on the public relationship with racing and encourages young jockeys to take it upon themselves to support and promote the sport.
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    Laura King expresses a worry about coaching jockey’s too much and warns against the monotonous responses of professional soccer players. She speaks about Oisin Murphy and his demeanour and positive relationship with the press. She recalls him as honest about his rides, both positive and negative and comes across as a fresh and engaging face for the media.
    Laura King
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    Enrico Cuerci reminds the crowd that jockeys and trainers are professional in their own fields and that the media has an important role to make the horsemen comfortable during interviews to get the best possible outcome for all parties.
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    Tommo speaks fondly about jockey Frankie Dettori and the media presence he has, the crowd flocks to see his flying dismount for example. Have something that’s worth talking about, he advises, you can’t play tennis with only one person and that both interviewee and interviewer must feed each other.
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    Laura King brings up the subject of the limited time that jockeys have to give interviews and reminds the crowd that the press must be respectful of this when at the races. She calls on the racecourses to manage this time more effectively and promotes the work of the media in a more unified manner.
    She also speaks about how powerful a tool social media can be when used in the correct manner and advises the jockeys to have a social media presence and use it to promote themselves positively.
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    Keith Brackpool, Chairman of the California Horse Racing Board speaks about mandatory interviews in the state of California. The obligation is on the riders to promote the sport as they are the sport’s stars. He uses this year’s winners of the triple crown races as an example, all three of which have been retired to stud. These horses are not around long enough to build a relationship with fans, so our jockeys must do it instead.
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    Derek Thomas and Lara Sawaya conducted a questions and answers workshop in the afternoon.
    Lara Sawaya thanks His Highness Sheikh Mansoor for his vision and initiative to promote the health and safety of jockeys worldwide. It is the only festival of its kind worldwide and it is directions that have brought the festival to what it is today and it’s his direction which will further fuel the growth of the Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Festival.
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    All jockeys present at today’s workshop received a surprise gift of a watch from Lara Sawaya
    Lara Sawaya
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    A representative from the Amateur Jockey’s association spoke about the association with John Moore’s University and a study conducted which showed 75% of jockeys in the study were deemed to be depressed with 2 being classed as suicidal. He asked Lara what will the Sheikh Mansoor festival contribute in terms of helping jockeys with their mental health?
    Lara has acknowledged the serious issue of metal health and so has provided a Reiki expert to help the jockeys holistically and to guide the jockeys in the right direction during tomorrow’s workshop.
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    After much discussion between the trainers and both Lara and Tommo the issue was raised that perhaps a session is needed for trainers to give them help in learning how to educate their apprentices in the right way.
    Lara and Tomo
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    Much debate takes place during the workshop on the relationship of the media with apprentices and several people felt that the media are lazy in their approach to interviewing the young riders. This was met with appreciation from the media but in turn they encouraged apprentices to be prepared and in doing so they can encourage the media to change their lines of questioning and force the media to be more creative.
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    Julie Krone encourages the apprentices to not be too proud, to create friendships and relationships with their peers to support and inspire each other. She reassures the jockeys that it is ok to be afraid, to be unsure as many of their peers in the weigh room are feeling the same way.
    Julie Krone, 2nd from left
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    Keith Rowe from RACE in Ireland, asks Lara is there an appetite to create smaller, more interactive groups and workshops to ensure that the jockeys get as much as possible out of the week.
    Lara responds explaining that a different format will take place next year with more workshops with increased training and input from international experts.
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    John Reid thanks Lara for giving many people a voice in a situation where they have not previously had an input. John tells the crowd that he became a jockey coach because he is passionate about riding, safely, correctly and successfully. He turns his attention to amateur jockeys and the support networks in place for injured jockeys and asks Lara what supports are in place to support the Sheikh Mansoor Festival jockeys?
    Sarah Oliver answers John, all amateur jockeys are required to have their own personal insurance or be insured through the clubs with which they are affiliated.
    Tommo digs deeper asking why is this the case for amateurs when professionals are treated differently?
    Sara again responds speaking about their own club in Great Britain where insurance is taken very seriously and all amateurs are insured to the highest standards.
    It transpires however that there are large discrepancies between different countries.
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    Dr. George Wilson speaks about the relationship between jockey and trainer. Talking about the severe rapid dehydration of jockeys and so the associated decrease in performance. He calls for an onus on the trainers to select jockeys who are properly prepared, who can manage the racing weight and don’t need to rely on severe wasting to ride.
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    After an intense and in-depth round of discussion the delegates break for the evening. 
    Tonight's entertainment includes a Fashion Show at the Rotana Beach Hotel.
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    A very unique night was what was awaiting the guests when we arrived at the Beach Rotana Hotel where they managed to seat a whopping 708 guests.
    A fashion show was the first of the evenings entertainment featuring couture creations of the talented Amak Azhari.
    Once again, the food was exquisite and would have satisfied the toughest of critics, perhaps this was so as the amount and variety of food on offer was longer than a "jubilee line train" as some attendees joked.
    Some of the night's entertainment
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    A highlight of the night was the powerful and beautiful voice of Anna Velasquez of the Puerto Rico jockey school. She sang many a ballad and may be responsible for living up the dance floor which uncovered the incredible dancing talent of this year's French Derby winning jockey Jean-Bernard Eyquem.
    Two particular Racing Post employees were thrilled to be re-acquainted with Julie Krone, both remember her riding a treble in Redcar back in 1992 one of the two interviewing her post all three races. She remembers the day vividly and explained the generosity and hospitality of Lord Zetland that day is a tale her father re-tells regularly as one of the best nights of his life. 
    Craig Thake and Tony Smurthwaite with Julie Krone
    Comment ()
    Saturday was focused mainly on the jockeys attending the event where a series of workshops were conducted on health and nutrition, fitness, media training and holistic therapy.
    The non-rider quests attended the Al Wathba Challenge endurance race where the guests travelled along side the competitors and got an all encompassing experience of endurance racing in the Middle East. .
    Comment ()
    The One World, 6 Continents Gala Dinner took place last night on the terrace of the fabulous Emirates Palace.
    Again, the entertainment was creative and powerful - a series of drummers and an all female violin group who traveled all the way from Morocco. 
    Lara presented awards to a large amount of attendees to pay thanks for their continued support and contribution to the Sheikh Mansoor Festival. 
    Racing Post correspondents with their awards
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    Today is the big day with racing kicking off in just under 2 hours.
    There are six races on today's card culminating in the Jewel Crown. The schedule is below with the official opening ceremony taking place after the apprentice championship. These official openings are something we don't often see in the UK and Ireland and the RP team are very much looking forward to it!
    • UAE Martyrs Cup

    • UAE Martyrs Trophy

    • Wathba Stud Farm Cup

    • HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship IFAHR

    • HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship IFAHR

    • Shk Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown »- IPIC


    The favourite for the big race is the French raider Al Mourtajez owned by Al Shaqab, ridden by Julien Auge for trainer Thomas Fourcy. 

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    Before racing the three Racing Post Banditos paid a quick visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is an incredible architectural feat and we also learned some interesting facts such as the carpet inside the mosque is the largest in the world and was hand-sewn by 2,000 women.  
    Here is a picture of us in our traditional Arab clothing. 
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    The first race is won by Sheikh Mansoor Ambassador Richie Mullen on the front running AF Mukhifah trained by Ernst Oertel and owned by Mr. Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.
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    A quick fire double was on the cards for the owner as his second string, Ibn Harmany Al Zobair stayed on to take the race for apprentice jockey Lyle Hewitson. Unfortunately Hewitson was one of three apprentices to miss out on a spot in the Sheikha Fatima bunt Mubarak Apprentice Jockeys Championship (IFAHR) but it is an ill wind that blows no good and Ibn Harmany Al Zobair provided the young South African with the 100th winner of his career on his first ride here in Abu Dhabi.
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    The first thoroughbred race of the night was won by Doug Watson's Shamaal Nibras and it seemed the recent gelding of the horse has done the trick when he surged clear of the field.
    Shamaal Nibras
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    The fourth race of the night the HH Sheikha Fatima bunt Mubarak Apprentice Jockeys Championship saw a clear winner from before they turned the bend for home. Qader ridden by Dylan Dunn was a popular winner for the home crowd being owned and bred byH. E. Sh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Ridden by Australian apprentice Dylan Dunn it seemed a race of riders as the apprentice who's had over 100 winners from a thousand rides proved his class amongst the field. 
    Dylan Dunn
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    Catherine Walton, assistant trainer to Micky Hammond was crowned HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Champion after holding off a fast finishing Cindy Klinkenberg aboard Babel D'Allias. 
    Catherine Walton
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    There was upset in the big race of the night when favourite Al Mourtajez failed to travel from early on and opened the door for the Eric Lemartinel trained RP Burn. the Thierry Jarnet ridden Mabrooka was three quarters of a length back in second, a head from Sylvine Al Maury.
    RB Burn was given a great ride by Gerald Avranche to collect the winner's purse of the richest Arab race in the world with a prize fund of €1,200,000. Bred by Dianne Waldron in the US the Dubai Kahayla Classic was mentioned as the possible next target for the grey.
    RB Burn wins the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan Jewel Crown
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