By Gulf News M. Satya Narayan, Chief Sports Reporter
Houston ~ Five-year-old Grilla was steered to a comfortable win in the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival’s Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Grade 3) race for Purebred Arabian horses at the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston on Saturday.
Trained and owned by Bill Waldron, the grey Grilla was given a fantastic ride by jockey William Hollick with the margin of over two lengths separating the winner from the second-placed TM Fred Texas.
Grilla set a fast time of 1:47.14 second while winning the US$ 20,000 race from seven other runners and Hollick said, “He was always in control and he is a super horse.”
Owner Waldron said, “We will see how he comes out of this race and then we may run him in the next Sheikh Mansour Festival race in Delaware on July 2.”
It was the Festival’s debut race in Texas and was the opening race for the 2011 season with the next Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup to be held in Toulouse in France. After that the series will visit Duindigt in The Netherlands, Delaware Park in the US, Berlin in Germany, Frankfurt in Germany, Warzloviec in Poland, Croan in France and finally end in Abu Dhabi.
Abdul Rehman Ahmed Al Jaber, Representative of the UAE Embassy in the US attended the race meeting and also distributed the trophies to the winning connections of Grilla along with Ms Lara Sawaya, Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival, Texas Arabian Breeder’s Association President Ed Wilson, Martial Boisseuil, Racing Consultant of Wathba Stud Farm and Waleed El Moughraby, the Festival’s Financial Controller from ADACH.
Speaking to the UAE media in Houston, Abdul Rehman Ahmed Al Jaber said, “the staging of this race here in Houston is part of the efforts of the UAE to promote the heritage and culture of the UAE to the American people.”
“Such events boost the political, cultural and sporting relations between the two countries,” he said, adding, “Texas has come forward to stage this event after the success of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival’s success in Delaware.”
“Grilla is currently one of the top Arabian horses and its winning of this race proves the quality of the field that this debut race has attracted,” said Ms Sawaya. “Owners here in the US feel the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup in Delaware is one of the biggest Purebred Arabian races and this year the race is likely to be upgraded from a Grade 3 to Grade 2 status,” she added.
With thousands of fans attending the race meeting which also staged some of the biggest races for Quarter Horses, Ms Sawaya picked Jane White Alexander’s name as the lucky winner which will enable persons to an all-expenses-paid trip to visit Abu Dhabi during the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2011.
The Festival’s races are sponsored by Invest AD, Areej Al Ameerat, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2011,Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.