Newbury racecourse opens its gates to a full seven-race card of Arabian racing today as the finale of the Dubai Summer Festival gets underway.
A glittering star cast takes centre stage for Arabian day
Newbury racecourse opens its gates to a full seven-race card of Arabian racing today as the finale of the Dubai Summer Festival gets underway. The three-day extravaganza, which started on Friday, is principally sponsored by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Shadwell stud operation. With free entry to the public and worth £119,000 (Dh715,000) in prize money, the day is expected to attract a bumper crowd and is billed as the richest day of Arabian racing in the world.
The first two days of the festival were devoted to thoroughbreds which have now cleared the way for an international all-star field of Arabians to take centre stage. The main attraction this year is top-rated Fryvolous, owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Prepared by Rod Simpson, Fryvolous, who runs in the £40,000 Group One Shadwell Dubai International Stakes, under Daragh O'Donohoe, has form on his side after winning the Group One Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night as well as the Group Two Abu Dhabi International Stakes at Newmarket on July 3.
But Sheikh Hamdan, who has been a patron of Arabian races at Newbury since 2003 and began promoting Arabian races more than two decades ago, has his own race day form that is hard to argue with; in 2008 his runners took home four of the seven races on offer. One main threat must be considered in Sheikh Hamdan's No Risk Al Maury, the winner of the last two race renewals and the 2008 champion purebred Arabian faces off against Simpson's six-year-old charge and is likely to be ridden by top jockey Richard Hills.
Qatar's all-victorious mare, Al Dahma trained by Alban de Mieulle, who has won 10 Group One races including the UK Derby, the Breeders Cup and the Coup du Europe, also starts. Saudi Arabia's Nashwan al Khalidiah lines up alongside the 2008 runner-up Jaafer ASF, who got the better of Al Dahma in the HH Heir Apparent Trophy, over the same 1m 2f distance earlier in the year. Simpson, though, is confident his gelding will give a good account of himself. "He's only a small horse but he's very, very tough and I think he's been easing up in his last couple of wins," said the trainer.