2015 World Championships in Abu Dhabi
Home of the His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival, Abu Dhabi and its racetrack were about to stage another monumental conquest for an Australian rider, as well as many international counterparts. Melbourne apprentice jockey Ben Thompson had secured himself a start in the Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Apprentice’s World Championship against fellow jockeys from all over the world. Ben’s earlier victory this year in Lexington, Kentucky in the United States of America as a leg of the Purebred Arabian Racing Festival provided him with a walk-up start for the world final in Abu Dhabi. However it wasn’t just the riders contesting the Festival’s concluding races that were invited to the Abu Dhabi celebrations. Throughout this year the HH Sheikh Mansoor Purebred Arabian Flat Racing Festival has toured the world providing opportunities to jockeys and racing participants alike, with international experiences that for many people were beyond their wildest dreams. Queensland rider Tracy O’hara had the extraordinary prospect back in January to represent Australia in the Arabian Peninsula nation of Oman. A beautiful and exotic Arabic country with incredible hospitality and a rich racing heritage of its own, that gave Tracy a foreign encounter well beyond that of her home town of Rockhampton.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival also provided an international stage to Benalla based jockey – Shirley Hunter, making this year one that Shirley would never forget. Less than six months after Shirley had her first city winner at Moonee Valley, Shirley could not believe her luck as she represented Australia in a leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak ladies races in Stockholm, Sweden. Finishing second by a very narrow margin, Shirley had the ride of her life aboard a Purebred Arabian, trained by Holland’s Karin Van der Bos. Melbourne rider Jackie Beriman had found herself in California in the United States as a part of the Purebred Arabian Festival also. Riding a delightful Purebred Arabian Big is Better, Jackie fell in love with her mount and the whole international platform that HH Sheikha Fatima and her son HH Sheikh Mansoor provide to typically thoroughbred racing participants. Jackie, herself the owner of an Arabian horse, really enjoyed the working opportunity to race and engage with Purebred Arabian horses, knowing firsthand the Arabian’s capacity to think on the run as well as the animal’s emotional intelligence. Another Melbourne jockey, apprentice Jake Bayliss had a truly European racing experience aboard a Purebred Arabian in Poland. Tor Sluzewiec is one of eastern Europe’s finest race tracks, that
ON THE SAME AFTERNOON THAT MICHELLE PAYNE GALLOPED HER WAY INTO RACING HISTORY
AS THE FIRST FEMALE JOCKEY TO RIDE TO VICTORY IN THE MELBOURNE CUP, MANY OTHER RIDERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING AUSTRALIA, WERE BOARDING AEROPLANES FOR
ABU DHABI IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
After Ben’s jubilant victory, the excitement continued as Switzerland’s Astrid Wullschleger rode Najm Alemarat, trained by UAE based French horse trainer Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Astrid was ecstatic to win the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World final. The finale of the evening, the world’s richest Arabian race – The Jewel Crown valued at $1.9 million AUD (1.2million Euro) was the last event on the programme. All jockeys as guests of the Sheikh Mansoor tour and racing fans alike, at Abu Dhabi, were treated to a thrilling finish and a magnificent display by one of the world’s leading riders – Olivier Peslier, aboard the Qatar owned Purebred Arabian – Kalino. Alban de Mieulle the winning trainer, who prepared Kalino to defeat Sahabba thrilling close finish for the inaugural group one race. As the Melbourne Cup Carnival prides itself on hosting various international connections, The HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Purebred Arabian Flat Racing Festival, not only tours the world, but also actively engages 81 nationalities and racing participants from all walks of life with the very foundation of racing – The Purebred Arabian. Special thanks to Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival, Ms Lara Sawaya and her team for an incomparable year. The Melbourne Racing Club looks forward to hosting the Purebred Arabian Festival on its Australia Day programme in January 2016.
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The Festivals Executive Director Lara Sawaya and Festival Dignitaries with 2015 Australian jockeys waiting for Ben Thompson
RIGHT: Ben Thompson holding his trophy aloft with Australian's Shirley Hunter, Jackie Beriman and Jake Bayliss
The apprentice's race taking the first turn out of the straight in Abu Dhabi
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