Habtoor polo team continue winning streak at British Polo Day Dubai Cup

Matt Jones 29/03/2015
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On a roll: The victorious Habtoor Polo team with the British Polo Day Dubai Cup.

Habtoor Polo and Sofitel Gulf Polo were the winners of the two main trophies on offer at British Polo Day Dubai on Friday evening. Hosted by the Habtoor family at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, the event was celebrating its sixth year.

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Sofitel swooped to claim the Falcon Plate with a thrilling 7-6 win over Royal Salute Oxbridge. Stuart Wrigley and Jacqueline Hooper played out of their skins for the Oxbridge team, but they could not prevent their team going down to a narrow defeat. 

The showpiece event of the day was a no-less entertaining affair as Habtoor secured an 8-5 win over the Hackett British Exiles to claim the British Polo Day Dubai Cup.

Habtoor have enjoyed a successful season in the Gulf already, winning the Hildon Cup in February. They continued their good form by taking the Cup although the Exiles proved stiff.

Earlier in the day the Jaeger-LeCoultre Cavalry team beat the Gaucho Guards 3-0 to win the Hackett Thesiger Trophy. The Rest of the World, meanwhile, won an entertaining Brompton Bicycle polo match 4-0 against Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club.

Royal Salute’s Jamie Morrison won the day’s Most Valuable Player award, with the Holland & Holland Shot of the Day accolade going to Lucas Monteverde.

Tom Hudson, co-founder of British Polo Day, said: “It’s been amazing to see British Polo Day Dubai grow over the last six years.”

Philip Parham, the UK ambassador to the UAE, added: “Polo, along with other equestrian sports, exemplifies the strong links between British and Emirati heritage past, present and future.”

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Erwan Charpy breaks Dubai World Cup duck and Michael Owen's Brown Panther scores winner

Peter Ward 29/03/2015
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Famous face: Ex-England striker Owen.

Meydan’s big day began with the Group 1 Kahayla Classic, the Purebred Arabian equivalent of the Dubai World Cup, over the same 2,000 metres dirt course and distance and won by Sheikh Hamdan’s Manark.

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Dane O’Neill had the ride, while delighted trainer Erwan Charpy said: “I have gone close before in this but it is great to win it.”

Having only his third World Cup card mount, O’Neill was riding a first big night winner and providing Sheikh Hamdan with a sixth win in the race, but first since 2007.

“I was allowed to set a steady gallop,” said O’Neill. “That really suited as he needed to prove his stamina. He then quickened and won well.”

Sheikh Hamdan was soon celebrating a double, this time with Paul Hanagan performing the steering aboard Tamarkuz, successful in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and registering a fourth consecutive 1,600m dirt victory in the process.Dane O'Neill rides Manark home in the Kahalya Classic.

Hanagan, who also won the race for Sheikh Hamdan in 2013 with Soft Falling Rain, said: “This horse is tough and keeps on improving.”

Brown Panther, bred and part-owned by ex-England footballer Michael Owen, was far too good for his 13 rivals in the first of the four turf races, the 3,200m Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.

Trained by Tom Dascombe, he was never far off the pace under Richard Kingscote who sent him for home when Mushreq’s attempt to make all faltered at the top of the straight.

A delighted Owen, who had ensured his television commitments would not prevent him from being on course to witness the win, said: “It is just amazing. This has been his target since his big win in Ireland last year. Tom has done great job training him and Richard gets on so well with the horse.”

The fact Belgian Christophe Soumillon was prepared to waste to get down to the 55kgs weight to be carried by the Mike De Kock-trained Mubtaahij in the Group 2 UAE Derby always looked significant and so it proved.

The pair stormed clear to post a sixth in the race for the trainer and second for the jockey. “I was always happy,” said Soumillon. “He was far too good.”

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Solow denies Great Gatsby in 1,800m Dubai Turf showdown

Peter Ward 29/03/2015
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The $6million 1,800m Dubai Turf, previously the Dubai Duty Free, was dominated by two of the three greys in the field with French challenger Solow denying The Grey Gatsby, representing England.

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With Maxime Guyon in the saddle, the Freddie Head-trained charge was able to make it eight wins from 12 career starts and was landing his fifth consecutive victory.

He started his winning roll in a conditions race last August before progressing to win in both Group Three and Group Two company at the end of last season.

At Chantilly earlier this month, he continued his winning thread with victory over 1,600m on the Polytrack which clearly put him spot on for this step up in class.

As the leaders started to tire early in the straight, Guyon eased his mount to the front and the pair quickened clear to finish the job. As smooth as Guyon’s progress was on the winner,

The Grey Gatsby, twice a Group One winner last year for Kevin Ryan and jockey Ryan Moore, was making heavy weather of giving chase.

He ran on to hold second ahead of the fast finishing Mshawish who appeared to suffer a troubled passage in early part of the straight.

Guyon said: “He really impressed me when winning his prep at Chantilly but was even better today. This was a genuine Group One field and he won easily.”

Head added: “He is a nice horse who improved throughout last year and is still going the right way. That was a big win.”

The French then supplied the one-two in the ensuing $6million Dubai Sheema Classic, also on turf but over 2,400m. Christophe Soumillon, successful earlier on the card on Mubtaahij in the UAE Derby, completed a double aboard Dolniya who was chased home by compatriot, Flintshire.

The winner is trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre, the runner-up by Andre Fabre. They had also finished one-two in a prep race on the Polytrack at Chantilly early this month with Dolniya extending her superiority over Flintshire from a neck to more than two lengths this time.

Soumillon’s mount proved a lot more tractable than many of her opponents behind a steady early gallop, before unleashing a potent turn of foot.

Soumillon said: “She is a young filly who has plenty more to offer and did that well this evening. She settled nicely behind a sedate pace and then quickened very nicely.

“If need be I would actually have made the running because she stays well and that speed she possesses is a great asset in a slowly run race.

“We will get her back to Europe and plan ahead but she ran well in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe last year and that could well be on her agenda again I would imagine.”

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