The UAE are on to big things in the world of show jumping, according to the President of the UAE Cup winner Philipp Weishaupt. The German added the Euro 165,000 5-star President of the UAE Cup presented by Longines to his UAE spoils, on Thursday evening, sealing victory with a cool-headed second round at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
Weishaupt, who had won the qualifying class the previous day, was last to go in the ten-rider second round on Catokia and the pair were one of only seven clears carried over from the first round.
The German kept his nerve to take victory, but admitted afterwards to Sport360 he felt the pressure. “Obviously there’s pressure when you come to the 5-star level, especially in the Grand Prix, it’s the biggest achievement you can get as a rider. It’s positive pressure though, it gives you that little bit extra that you need to win.”
Weishaupt, a regular on the UAE winter circuit, who first made the trip eight years ago,praised the UAE and their progression in the sport. “The UAE is growing, you can feel the buzz around the local riders and the horses are part of the heritage here so it’s no surprise the standard is improving,” he said. “It’s fantastic to see the difference from ten years ago in the quality of performances. There are also a lot of kids attending the events now, which is very encouraging to see. If us German rider’s aren’t careful the UAE guys will be beating us pretty soon.”
The German doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon and hopes to continue his good form going forward. “For me the plan is to keep going, keep working hard and we’ll see where it takes me, I’ve still got the hunger and motivation to keep improving so that’s where I’m at currently. It’s always a pleasure to perform in the UAE and I’m glad it’s worked out so well for me.”
H.E. Major Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Risi, President of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation also spoke to Sport360 following the event, and is looking at a bright future for the UAE in the sport. He said, “Equestrian in general has grown in the UAE thanks to the full support of the leaders of this country, especially by the Prime Minister and HH Sheikh Mohammed. The jumping show is improving which is important, since 2010. The International Federation trusted us by giving us the 5-star show jumping champions. The number of riders from more than 25 countries shows the competition and standard in the UAE is very high and we’re very proud to see on of our own riders finishing in third place, competing against the likes of Germany.”
He was full of admiration for the new crop of UAE riders who are taking the sport to the next level. “The riders here are getting used to riding against the International riders and the UAE have been taking care of the riders and buying good horses in order to compete with the very best in the world. We’re looking forward to the Olympics to fly the flag of the UAE.” Glory at the 2020 Tokyo would be the icing on the top of a project which as seen heavy investment in the region. Riders need a combination of dedication and commitment, along with a good horse and good trainer. The environment our riders learn in is the best it can be and that’s what we hope will help our riders with our Olympic goal,” he said. “Longines have been giving great support and commitment so the sport. They are committed to the partnership for the next year so we’re both gaining the value of this sport.”
Along with the Olympic dream, the Federation are keen on building and nurturing the young talent across the UAE. “We have a few clubs in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, Sharjah and Dubai who we are taking good care of,” said the President. “It’s the next generation we’re seeing come through, so we’re giving them all the support they need. We’re always looking to making the riders feel appreciated and ready to tackle the next step in their career.”
Charlie Appleby continued his and Godolphin’s brilliant Meydan campaign as Mythical Magic and Divine Image recorded a memorable Zabeel Mile and UAE Oaks double.
The Newmarket trainer took his season’s tally to 16 winners in Dubai when Mythical Magic capped another outstanding night for him – watched trackside by Sheikh Mohammed.
Divine Image was a remarkable first winner of the UAE Oaks for Appleby, under William Buick, turning unpromising mid-race signs into a convincing victory.
Mythical Magic then proved the move up in trip much to his liking, after his runner-up spot in last month’s Al Fahidi Fort behind stablemate D’bai, as he and Buick won the near £120,000 prize for the Group Two Mile by three lengths at 5-2 from Simon Crisford’s favourite Century Dream.
Appleby was typically modest and understated afterwards as he said: “It’s a very pleasing night.
“Like any sport, when you’re on the sort of roll we’re on at the minute, the confidence certainly goes throughout the stable – and the horses feel it. They’re running out of their skins.
“It’s satisfying, his Highness Sheikh Mohammed coming here and watching his filly Divine Image. Without him, I wouldn’t be here.”
Divine Image, sent off 5-6 favourite on the back of her eyecatching second to shock UAE 1,000 Guineas winner Silva on her Dubai debut last month, was better away this time but appeared to be struggling as the race developed.
Hayley Turner made a bold bid from the front on Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor’s 40-1 shot Swift Rose – but once Buick got Divine Image rolling, they stayed on to win by a neck.
It was a determined performance, which had Appleby contemplating the possibility of taking on the colts next in the UAE Derby on World Cup night.
He said: “We’ve just spoken potentially about a look at the UAE Derby – it’s certainly under consideration. It’s definitely going to be put in the melting pot.”
Godolphin supplied six of the eight-strong field, and the first five home, in the Dubai Millennium Stakes as Appleby’s Spotify led the sea of blue.
The 8-1 shot completed a two-from-two perfect record at Meydan since joining Appleby – once again leading all the way under James Doyle, as last month, and this time holding on by an ever-diminishing short-head from bin Suroor’s Racing History and odds-on stablemate First Nation.
The five-year-old entire, formerly trained in France, may be on his way back north soon.
Appleby said: “The horse digs deep when they come to him, and full credit to him.
“It’ll be interesting to speak to James, but I’d say that will probably be his carnival wrapped up for this year – we’ll give him a break and look towards a European campaign.”
Former Crisford inmate Rodaini was a hard-fought winner of the opening Jaguar F PACE (Handicap), under Connor Beasley for Ahmad bin Harmash.
The 6-1 chance collared long-time leader Almanaara, and then held the strong finish of Moqarrab by a short head over seven furlongs on the dirt.
Ekhtiyar then stormed to an impressive five-and-three-quarter-length success in the Land Rover Discovery (Handicap) on the turf, as 7-2 co-favourite on his second start for Doug Watson.
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s five-year-old was turning the form round with Another Batt, having finished third to that rival on his Meydan debut.
Bin Suroor’s Major Partnership took the closing Range Rover Velar (Handicap), by a neck under Kevin Stott from Above N Beyond, to complete Godolphin’s four-timer.
Wootton has his first run for Charlie Appleby since his move from Alex Pantall’s stable, in the Zabeel Mile at Meydan.
The four-year-old colt had form at the highest level last season, finishing third in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and fourth in the French 2000 Guineas.
“Wootton brings a good level of form from Europe, and his training has gone well,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com, as he looked forward to Thursday’s Group Two highlight.
“He looks to have strengthened up over the winter, and a reproduction of his Royal Ascot run is going to make him a serious contender.”
Appleby is also represented by Mythical Magic and First Contact.
He added: “We were delighted with Mythical Magic’s performance in the Al Fahidi Fort, and the step up to a mile is going to suit.
“We are confident that this is the right trip for him.
“First Contact didn’t settle very well in the Al Rashidiya, so we are looking to get him to relax over this distance and do everything the right way round.”
Godolphin have a fourth runner in Top Score, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
“Top Score was disappointing over six furlongs on his latest start. But a mile will be better for him, and he has been working well at home,” said bin Suroor.
“We felt he deserved another chance in a Group race, and I am hoping for a better run this time.”
Of the six Godolphin runners in an eight-strong field for the Group Three Dubai Millennium Stakes, Appleby has four and bin Suroor two.
Appleby said: “First Nation won well on his first start in Dubai, and the form of the race has worked out well. He has done everything right since and looks the one to beat.
“Oasis Charm is a very strong traveller, who picked up nicely in a competitive handicap, and deserves to have a crack at a nice race like this.
“Spotify won over a mile and a half last time but has sharpened up for that run, and we feel that dropping back to 10 furlongs is well within his compass.
“Vintager has done well, and it was always the plan to start him off over a mile and a quarter, because he ran well to finish fourth in the Hampton Court Stakes on his only previous start over this distance. On all the evidence we have seen at home, it looks to be the right trip for him.”
Bin Suroor said of his duo: “Racing History is a nice horse, who always goes well at home and has been enjoying his racing in Dubai. This is a good distance for him, and I am looking for another pleasing performance.
“Team Talk ran well to finish second over this course and distance last time. He has been doing well at home and was fourth in this race last year, so I am hoping for another nice run.”
Silva romped home by nine and three-quarter lengths in the UAE 1000 Guineas, and bids to double up in the UAE Oaks.
Among the opposition for Pia Brandt’s filly are the Appleby-trained Divine Image and bin Suroor’s Dubai Beauty, who were second and fourth respectively to her last time.
Appleby said: “Divine Image is a lightly-raced filly, and her inexperience counted against her in the UAE 1000 Guineas when she missed the break. She has come out of that race well and has experience now on the surface, which should aid her chances.”
Bin Suroor said: “Dubai Beauty has been disappointing so far this year. She won well first time out at Newmarket last season, when she showed some class, and I am hoping that the extra distance might bring about an improved performance.”
Irish trainer David Marnane believes Alfredo Arcano should be in tip-top shape for the Land Rover Discovery Handicap, following his comeback run two weeks after having a slight setback.
A stone bruise forced the sprinter to miss an intended engagement and some serious exercise, and he finished midfield behind Mazzini.
Alfredo Arcano had only been beaten half-a-length when fourth to Dream Ahead in January, and Jamie Osborne’s charge is again in opposition.
“We just felt he needed the run the last day after getting a stone bruise and missing an important work and a couple of days or racing,” said County Tipperary-based Marnane.
“He worked well at the weekend, and we’re happy to let him take his chance.”
In the Range Rover Velar Handicap, Marnane runs Freescape, who belied his odds of 33-1 when third to Mubtasim in a seven-furlong handicap.
The trainer is hoping the step up to a mile will help him overcome his wide draw from stall 16.
“He’s obviously coming off a good run,” said Marnane.
“Unfortunately, he’s drawn pretty wide. He’s a hold-up horse at that trip, so we’ll just have to hope.
“He’s come forward for the run again, and he’s in a great place. He just needs a bit of luck running.”