x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Nirwan one in a million

The champion trainer Doug Watson's Nirwan left his best until last with a superb late run to win the President's Cup.

Richard Hills and Nirwan formed a formidable team at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, winning the President's Cup with a brilliant run.
Richard Hills and Nirwan formed a formidable team at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, winning the President's Cup with a brilliant run.

ABU DHABI // The champion trainer Doug Watson's Nirwan left his best until last with a superb late run to win the President's Cup by a head. The race was the highlight of the capital's biggest race meeting for Purebred Arabians at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

The jockey Richard Hills took care to stay out of trouble during the main Group 1 feature race, worth Dh1million, which drew a maximum field of 16 over the 2,200 course. Hills, 46, and Nirwan stayed with the pack as Arsene Rupin made the early running. But, two furlongs out, Hills steered Nirwan towards the front before taking the lead yards from the line, to pip pre-race favourites Abu Alemarat and Shadiyda at the post to win by a head.

Nirwan, the seven-year-old chestnut horse, was one of four runners representing Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Minister of Finance and Industry. It was Hills' fourth triumph but the first for Dubai-based Watson, who won the UAE trainers' title last season. "I am very fortunate to have such good Arabians for Sheikh Hamdan," said Watson. "And this horse has now done more than what was required from him."

Hills had reason to smile in the last race too, which he won on Waadi. apassella@thenational.ae