Inaugural HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards Stakes (Grade 1) at Santa Anita Park, California
3 April 2016, Santa Anita, California ~ Trainer, Lynn Ashby knows what a Golden weekend feels like. On 1 April, her charge, Thess Is Awesome, fought to win the US$100,000 Gr 1 Stake at Santa Anita in front of a Saturday packed house of Thoroughbred and Arabian racing fans.
The night before, on the first evening in April, Ashby was named Top Trainer in the Arabian Racing’s highest awards in both the US and the International divisions. Ashby has won the Darley Best Trainer award now for the 8th time.
Ashby was choked with emotion at the Santa Anita Park racecourse after jockey Travis Wales shot off to a pillar-to-post victory on the six-year-old, and in the bargain got the better of the favorite Paddy’s Day under Kelsi Purcell. It was a fitting result to the first-ever HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards Stake, which will hail the beginning of a new era of Arabian racing back at the famous Santa Anita track in Southern California.
Starting in stall 2, Travis took Thess Is Awesome right to the front and then after having mustered a good lead, waited for the others to come close before he pressed the button and the 6-year-old Dahess son responded with a nearly two-length win over Paddy’s Day. Easter Man under Edwin Maldonado and Quick And Rich under Janelle Campbell finished third and fourth in the 1700-metre race.
“I always knew he had the ability and today he was a class act. That is his style of running,” said Travis, commenting on his horse’s wire-to-wire win. “This is the first time I have ever ridden in Santa Anita Park and it is great to finish on top of a quality field,” the 24-year-old said.
The win also meant that Ashby, Travis, and Thess Is Awesome are now on their way to the world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in November – the €1.2 million Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Jewel Crown (Group 1). Thess is Awesome is owned and was bred by Deb Mihaloff and Alan Kirschner of Cre Run Farm.
Though November is a long way off, Ashby is looking forward for her star runner to be safe and make the trip to Abu Dhabi and compete in the world’s richest race. “It was in 2001 that I shipped Dreams of Valour to take part in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night but my horse could not run due to injury. Now I hope I can fulfill that dream and finally have a runner in the UAE, which has the best Purebred Arabian racing in the world,” said Ashby.
This debut of a HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival race at the iconic Santa Anita course saved the best for last as Thoroughbred fans stayed to watch and wager as the Purebred Arabians displayed their immense racing ability.
In the 10-horse field, winner of the 2015 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Triple Jewel series and the first leg of 2016, the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Amethyst Jewel (Gr 1) at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas on 5 March, Paddy’s Day was odds on to win. The Scott Powell-trained Paddy’s Day had also scooped up two Darley Awards – Best 4-year-old and the coveted Horse of the Year award on the previous night.
The race was attended by UAE officials and members of the Consulates in LA as well as Stewards of the The Cup, the founders of the Darley Awards including Chief Steward, Denise Gault.
Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) said, “As announced yesterday during the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley International Awards, the winner Thess Is Awesome will now be invited to Abu Dhabi for the world’s richest Purebred Arabian race. The winning trainer Lynn Ashby’s success over the two days has been a great advertisement for women in racing and we thank HH Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the World for her support.”
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival contributed $100,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund in addition to the race prize fund of US $100,000
The fans fully participated in the Festival-initiated ‘Best Hat & Best Fashion Competitions’, a huge hit with the ladies. Prizes included a ROLEX watch, a trip to Rome for the winner and a guest to the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in Italy from 24-29 May 2016, and a CHOPARD necklace. There were also three all-inclusive trip giveaways to Abu Dhabi through a free raffle draw.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, IPIC as Strategic Partner, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with and sponsored by Ayadii LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Bloom, Petromal, Rise General Trading Co. LLC, Hayatna, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Dr Nader Saab Switzerland, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2016, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.