UAE

Godolphin’s Blue Creek falls short as Active Spirit wins 1600m handicap race

Peter Ward 31/01/2016
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Pat Dobbs-Active Spirit-Meydan

Godolphin’s Blue Creek, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, was expected to advertise his UAE Derby credentials at Meydan.

Sadly though, for the vast majority of the Pick Six players, he had failed to read the script and the hot favourite could only manage a closing second behind Active Spirit in the 1600m handicap.

Trained by Doug Watson, the winner, sporting a visor for the first time, made all under a confident looking Pat Dobbs.

They went straight to the front, whereas Blue Creek was a stride behind the rest as the gates opened and Buick never looked happy on him. He did make ground to chase the leaders on the home turn but it was then Dobbs set sail for home and Buick’s mount never looked likely to overhaul the deficit.

In fairness, he looked in need of the experience and at least another 200m.

Racecourse commentator Terry Spargo described the upset as, “the biggest boil-over of the season and arguably of recent times.”

Take nothing away from the winner, owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) whose spokesman, Justin Byrne, said: “We pencilled this race in for him a month ago and were quite confident, until we saw Blue Creek was in the field. The visor has sharpened him up, as we hoped it would and Pat gave him a great ride.”

Dobbs and Watson had already combined to win the 1200m maiden with Tobaco, who had chased home Blue Creek in a 1600m a month ago.

Tobaco took a while to get on top but won comfortably enough in the end.

Watson said: “He is a nice, young horse who is only going to improve. This trip would be short enough for him and we will have to go away and think where to aim him next.”

Another trainer to saddle a double was Ahmad bin Harmash whose stable jockey, Freddy Tylicki, landed the concluding 1400m turf handicap aboard Championship.

He was chased home, at a respectable distance by Charlie Croker another for representing the Watson and Dobbs team.

Bin Harmash was making a quick return to the winner’s enclosure having also landed the preceding 2000m dirt handicap with Brabbham. With Tylicki unable to make the light weight, Harry Bentley was in the saddle.

Mickael Barzalona had just one ride on the card, in the other turf handicap, over 1800m and justified his presence with a smooth victory on Torchlighter, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer.

Barzalona said: “The return to turf has suited him and he really enjoyed coming down the centre, out of trouble, and passing tiring horses. It is my first winner of the season so it is very pleasing.”

Padlock was another runner-up for Dobbs and Watson, unable to pass old adversary Mutahadith in the opening 1200m dirt handicap. Tadhg O’Shea rode the winner for Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

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UAE

Regional golf round-up: Dubai Creek award, Yas ECCO challenge, win a Mercedes

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Dubai Creek has chalked up an environmental award.

Environmental award for Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club has joined Emirates Golf Club in becoming only the second in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to become GEO Certified.

Both clubs are managed by Dubai Golf, and are leading the way in environmental practices in the region. GEO (The Golf Environment Organisation) was founded in 2006 to help the sport deliver the greatest possible ‘positive impact’ in the communities and environments it touches.

GEO Certified is golf’s international eco-label and is awarded based on the club demonstrating a commitment to continual improvement in sustainable golf, nature protection, resource efficiency and community value.

Dubai Creek joins some of the most famous golf courses in the world in achieving the honour. Some of the other courses in that list are St Andrews, Turnberry, Gleneagles and Le Golf National, host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Christopher May, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Golf, said: “We are delighted that Dubai Creek has joined Emirates Golf Club in becoming GEO Certified.

“It is a significant achievement for the club and a major milestone in our long-term environmental strategy. We will continue to innovate and introduce new sustainable practices to reinforce our environmental focus on protecting our natural resources.”

Yas ECCO challenge
Brian McClure and Damien Ward won the Pairs Betterball in January’s Members ECCO Challenge, held on a slightly foggy day at Yas Links.

McClure and Ward finished their round with an incredible 41 points and walked away with a pair of ECCO Biom Shoes alongcwith a shoe care kit.

Second place was not far behind, with Aart Lehmkuhl and Alastair Crombie falling short by just one point.

Brian McClure and Damien Ward scooped the prizes.

Brian McClure and Damien Ward scooped the prizes.

Husband and wife duo of Alan and Teresa Sheepwash finished in third place with a better last nine holes and 37 points.

The next ECCO Challenge, to be played on Individual Stableford format, will be held at Yas Links on February 19.

Get an ace, win a Merc…
A brand-new Mercedes-Benz SUV will be up for grabs as a hole in one prize during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic that gets under way at Emirates Golf Club from February 4 to 7.

As the Official Automobile Partner of the tournament, Gargash Enterprises, the authorized distributor in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, will present the keys of a gleaming GLE 400 to the first golfer who aces the par-3 15th hole at the Majlis course.

In addition, Gargash Enterprises will also roll out a fleet of luxury SUVs through SIXT rent a car to chauffeur marquee players to and from the tournaments.

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UAE

Introducing Al Youla - Fazza Champs keep Emiratis dancing

Hiba Khan 28/01/2016
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Al-Youla dances have been a long-standing tradition in UAE culture, but recently under the patronage of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center, Al-Youla is being recognised as a major sporting event to a new generation of Emiratis as part of the Fazza Championships.

Here, Sport360 explores more about this increasingly popular competition.

WHAT IS AL YOULA?

Known as the ‘Soldier’s Dance’, Youla originated in the army as a celebratory jig. It evolved aesthetically to become a traditional dance and was eventually transformed into a sport that requires intensive training in order for the Yaweel (competitor) to become adept at handling the replica rifles that are central to the Youla routine.

Judges evaluate each contestant across a five-point criterion that includes footwork, rotation of the rifle, the throw, the catch and the overall fluidity of the movements, before awarding a score out of 50.

The dance involves the Yaweel spinning the rifle with the lightest of footwork, while his skill is also tested by how high he can toss the rifle and whether or not he can catch it.

The competition requires the Yaweel to throw the rifle 20m high (65ft) and be able to catch it as well.

A green laser beam scans the sky at the height of 17m to 20m mark that sets off a loud buzzer when the rifle is successfully flung that high.

The following video shows the performance of Saeed Bin Mussala, one of the contestant in this year’s Al-Youla Championship, during the first round of the 11th episode of the contest.

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE…

The Fazza Championships offers up a mouthwatering Dh1 million prize fund to its winner, with two-time winner Rashid Al-Khasouni – nicknamed the ‘Youla Millionaire’ after winning the title twice – among the judges for this year’s competition.

Having been a successful competitor, Al-Khasouni has developed an instinct that helps him identify a gifted Yaweel.

“The moment a Yaweel enters the stage we can tell whether or not he is a good player with the way he holds the rifle,” Al-Khasouni tells Sport360. “A good Youla performance is determined by and judged across the yaweel’s footwork, rotation of the rifle, the height at which the rifle is thrown, the catch and the overall skill.”

The Yaweel is not allowed to carry any other prop to the stage besides their rifle with former participant Ahmed Mohammed Al-Habsi learning this lesson the hard way. Al-Habsi carried a sword in the second edition of the Fazza Championships and was subsequently awarded a zero for his misdemeanour!

FAMILY FORTUNES

Most of the competitors have been training for the Youla competition since they were young children, and their families treat it as a tradition that celebrates their heritage and culture.

One contestant, Hamdan Mohammed Al-Hayeri, first took up Youla at the age of six – along with his 15 siblings. He is following in the footsteps of his brother, Juma Al-Hayeri, who was runner-up in last year’s competition.

The Al-Hayeri clan is just one of the many families who are trying to keep the tradition alive and Youla is now slowly being taken as a symbol of pride for Emirati men. The lack of women’s participation in the sport is the result of Emirati cultural sensibility.

“It is a symbol of manhood and pride, so Youla is only done by men and women are not encouraged to participate in it,” Al-Khasouni explains.

Abdullah Bin Hamdan Al Dalmouk keeps up the enthusiasm in his performance despite a hand injury.

THE HISTORY BOYS

The Meydan – located in Dubai’s Global Village – is considered the most prestigious platform on which budding and established Yaweel can showcase their talent and it is helping to keep alive a variety of the UAE’s most traditional sports in its history.

With the Fazza Championships, sports such as falconry, shooting, diving, hunting and Youla will continue to stand the test of time and help the upcoming generations stay in touch with their roots.

“Youla is an important part of our culture and something I got from my father, who got it from his father and his gradfather,” says Musallam Al-Amri, the current presenter and a former judge at the Youla Championship.

“Being able to do Youla is part of a of a man’s honour. The sport is in our blood and our DNA and the competition shows how proud we are of our culture. Sheikh Zayed, peace be upon him, always said that he who doesn’t have a past has no future, so we are trying to protect our past and our future. ”

Participants Ahmed Mohammed Al-Habsi from Ras Al Khaima and Hamdan Mohammed Al-Hayeri pose with renowned Emirati singer Maedad Al-Kaabi.

The Youla Championships is currently in its 7th episode  and is broadcast live on Sama Dubai from the Meydan in the UAE pavilion at Global Village every Friday at 21:00 GST. 

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