The soft ground and inclement weather conditions at the home of British Flat Racing did nothing to hamper the success of the Julian Smart trained MKEEFA, in the most valuable race of the UK racing calendar.
Though the field had been diminished in numbers due to the unseasonably soft ground, it still promised to be a quality contest described by Clerk of the Course Michal Prosser as “a super International race”. Three of the six runners were re-opposing since clashing in the Al Shahania Arabian Derby also over 1m2f at Chantilly in June. On that occasion the Jean-Francois Bernard trained Al Mamum Monlau was only beaten a short head with Rathowan and Mkeefa less than four lengths behind, finishing just out of the frame.
Al Mamum Monlau came from a stable that has been successful four times from the last five runnings in this contest and on current form was entitled to be sent of favourite. Ridden by regular partner Mickael Forest, this chestnut son of Munjiz, was the highest ranked three year old in last years’ International Classifications.
Behind him in the market were the Julian Smart trained, Amer sired trio, Rathowan, Mkeefa and Theeba. It was Theeba under Ted Durcan, who went clear from the start, clearly suited by front-running tactics which got her off the mark on her UK debut previously. Tracked by stablemate Mkeefa and the Polish trained Pentagon, it was a steadily run race with the pace picking up from the 2 furlong pole as Theeba dropped away leaving Mkeefa on the rail, with the field strung across the track.
Al Mamun Monlau who may have hit the front too soon at Chantilly, came widest of all, staying on from behind, but tired in the closing stages and threw away any chance by hanging towards the far side. However Mkeefa had the advantage of the rail, and the likely slightly quicker ground. Under a strong drive from Neil Callan, she was able to hold off the challenge of stablemate Rathowan by two lengths, with another encouraging run from Al Hibaab, a length behind, just edging out Al Mamun Monlau for third.
Trainer Julian Smart was “ecstatic” with his filly’s performance and that of the second, giving HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani a one-two in this prestigious event. The Al Thani stable are just coming to hand after a slow start, however Smart felt that they had needed the run when beaten in France and both were entitled to the improvement they had shown in this event, having recorded the same result in the Qatar Derby in Doha. Mkeefa and Theeba would both now be aimed at the Hatta International Stakes at Newbury on Dubai Day and then the four year old fillies contest on Saturday of the Arc de Triomphe weekend. Smart thought Rathowan would need to improve however to run in the Qatar Arabian World Cup.
The race was recorded by TURFTRAX sectional timings and a full report, including these times, can be found online at: http://www.turftrax.co.uk/pdf/tracking_13-07-12/NMK130712%20ARO%201M2F.pdf
The Arabian Racing Organisation is incredibly grateful to sponsors Emirates Equestrian Federation for their support of this prestigious global series and of Arabian Racing in the UK.