Williams guides Aziz to Emir’s Sword win
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA DARREN WILLIAMS rode Aziz to edge out some hot favourites and win the Emir’s Sword Race for Purebred Arabians, the most prestigious race on the Qatar horse racing calendar, at the New Al Rayyan track on Thursday.
The Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, presented the awards and sword to the winners at the closing ceremony.
Umm Qarn and Al Shahania entries were expected to fight it out for the top honours in the Emir’s Sword race. But Aziz, owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Thani, clinched the premier race and the QR2 million purse, to the delight of fans.
Julian Smart-schooled Aziz was not given a high rating compared to Damis, Raqiyah, defending champion Jaafer, Asraa Bin Albarq, Maseh and Mu’Azzaz. But Williams followed early pace-setters Maseh and Kasih closely, by staying close to the inside of the track.
On the home stretch, five-six horses almost raced side by side. Aziz reserved the steam, accelerated on time and hit the front.
With Asraa Bin Albarq, Jaafer and Mu’Azzaz seeking to close up on the leader, they could not produce the extra kick that was needed. Aziz went on to cross the finish line in the first place by three-fourths of a length, defeating Asraa and holder Jaafer.
It was an amazing finish for trainer Smart as all the top four horses had been trained by him. “It was an incredible finish for me in such a big race,” Smart said.
“I had fielded actually six horses and I’m a little disappointed that we could not get all the first six spots in the race,” quipped Smart.
It was a good day for rider Williams.
He had earlier piloted favourite Al Mujahaz to the Emir’s Trophy Group I for local bred Purebred Arabians. Al Mujahaz won the QR1 million race by four lengths. In the second place was Nasir al Naif and Dahash took the third place.
Umm Qarn Farm also had something to be delighted about, with Oliver Peslier astride Lancelot, winning the second feature race of the seven-race card – the Emir’s Trophy for Group I Thoroughbred Internationals.
Dubawi King (Gerard Avranche) and Amico Mio (D Badel) got the second and third spots.
The day, which had QR5.1 million at stake, began with a victory for Zahi, ridden by Jessica Marcialis, in the Purebred Arabians for female riders. Al Saad was guided to the second spot by Joanna Gustafsson and Asad Al Shajaa gained the third spot.
Hareq (Alan Munro) defeated Al Jeali to emerge the champion in the Purebred Arabians for 40-70 handicaps.
Dajen (Razali Zawari) and Ladyanne (Gerard Avranche) finished on the top in the Thoroughbred Handicap 50-70 and Thoroughbred Stakes Fillies and Mares, respectively.
At the closing ceremony, a large number of dignitaries were present, including, sponsor Total’s Managing Director Stephane Michel and Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club’s Chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Faleh al Thani and General Manager Sami Jassim al Boenain.