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Boost for UAE breeding at Arabian ‘Oscars’

Dubai: Shayel Aldhabi, trained by two-time UAE champion trainer Ernst Oertel in Abu Dhabi, was honoured at the prestigious HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards held at Los Angeles, California on Friday night.

The winner of four out of six starts during the 2013-2014 UAE racing season, Shayel Aldhabi was adjudged the Best Older Mare at the annual event which is often referred to as the ‘Oscar’s of Purebred Arabain racing.

They were sponsored by the HH Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival.

Shayel Aldhabi, who is owned by His Highness The President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was recognised for her outstanding performances during a season where she won the Arabian Triple Crown R1, the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic and the Etisalat Fillies Classic.

Her victory on Friday will provide a significant boost to the UAE’s Purebred Arabian breeding programme.

Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, was also among the big winner on the night as his 3-year-old filly Lorra was voted best of her age,

Sharing the spotlight on the historic Dolby Theatre stage, home to the Academy Awards, was the Arabian Racing Cup’s 27th annual Darley Awards, which honoured the best performers in North American Arabian racing.

After a gap of ten years, a special award was revived to honour Shaikh Mansour and Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, for their support to Arabian racing around the globe.

A big winner on the night was So Big Is Better who swept two awards including the Horse of the Year and Best Older Horse prizes.

The champion older Arabian horse of 2012, So Big Is Better capped an outstanding 2013 season with a pounding victory in the first ever Breeder’s Cup Arabian race at Santa Anita Park — the $150,000 Grade 1 President of the UAE Cup.

It is a fitting farewell present for the 9-year-old who heads off to stud duty with a record of 10 wins from 16 starts.

So Big Is Better beat off strong opposition from Dhaan, Grilla, Smoke House and Valiant Boy Sbfar in the competitive Horse of the Year category.

Dhaan, however, pocketed the best 3-year-old filly award, while Smoke House won in the best 4-year-old category.

In true Oscar style, the famous red carpet at Hollywood’s most iconic theatre was laid out for the crème de la crème of the Purebred Arabian racing fraternity and international guests.

The host for the ceremony was noted race emcee, Derek Thompson.

Abdullah Al Subosi, General Consulate of the UAE Embassy in Los Angeles welcomed the gathering, while Dr Wadoda Badran, Director-General of the Arab Women Organisation; Bahrain’s Shura Council member Lulwa Awadhi; IFAHR Chairman Sami Al Boenain; Lara Sawaya, Director HH Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival Chairman of Ladies Racing Committee (IFAHR); ADEC’s Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi; DEC’s Ali Mousa Al Khamiri; Invest AD’s Shaikh Hamdan Al Sharqi; ADSC’s Salah Al Marzouqi along with the Stewards of the Arabian Racing Cup – Denise Gault, Dr Kinsman Wright, Dianne Waldron, Nancy Blewet, Deborah Mihalof, Michelle Morgan and Sam Vasquez among others gave away the Award and Honors.

Sawaya and Al Amri, Racing Manager for Shaikh Mansour, received HH Shaikha Fatima and HH Shaikh Mansoor awards and expressed their satisfaction over the success of the event held at a historic venue and on such a large scale for the first time event.

A Gala dinner was held on Saturday to place a final seal on a majestic two-day event.