x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Al Anqa storms through

Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani's three-year-old Arabian mare recovers after shaky start to finish a shoulder clear.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani's three-year-old Arabian mare Al Anqa claimed a maiden win at the Niederrad Racecourse in Frankfurt, Germany, yesterday, storming through the pack under thundering conditions to run away with the Zayed the First Arabian Cup. The iron grey mare, trained by Qatar Arabian trainer Alban De Mieulle, had a shaky start at the third meeting of the Festival of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed for Arabian flat horse racing.

French jockey, David Bouland, recovered the mare quickly to pick up the pace through the back-straight, ensuring the pair finished a shoulder clear at the post. "She was very nervous in the gates," said Bouland wearing the Qatar stable's maroon and spots. "There wasn't much space, so we held back for the first half of the race. I felt she had more to give, so I pushed her forward for the finish. "She's a good filly, but still immature. She should make a great four-year-old."

The win comes in the third race of the filly's maiden year. She picked up a third in her first outing in Doha this March, followed by second place in Hamburg last month. "We'd like a win at the Breeders Cup in France in October," said Al Anqa's assistant trainer Eric Ventrou. "We are proving that Qatar can compete with the best in the world." After a hot, sunny morning, the starters leap from the gates in heavy rain and thunder. The Franzisaca Aeschbacher-owned Swiss colt Nil Ishan Ibn Al Sakbe followed up a recent win in Cologne to finish second in the field, with German Arab Terach El Samawi beaten in to third by a nose in the 1,600m flat-race for Arabian three-year-olds.

Pre-race favourite, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan's Shayea started well, chasing the leaders closely from the off. Partnered by French jockey, Jiri Palik the colt slipped away round the final bend to finish well off the pace. The race was the third of four meetings taking place as part of the Festival of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed for Arabian flat horse racing, supported by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

"We are very pleased with the support from the crowds. It has been a fantastic day, and the first time an Arabian race has featured on the front of a racecard in Frankfurt," commented Festival director Lara Sawaya. "It is a significant step for Arabian racing in Europe day." zgriffiths@thenational.ae