Zaaqya, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, leads the trio of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s stables trio. Neil Calan unites with Nasemah and Martin Dwyer partners top weight Azwa. All the three fillies are looked after by trainer Gillian Duffield.
Zaaqya, a well-bred four-year-old daughter of Al Sakabe is unbeaten in two starts winning her Maiden at Stratford last season and impressed in a Conditions contest on seasonal reappearance to beat a quality field of top performers at Fakenham over seven furlongs. And although her stamina is unproven, she is bred to stay and looks progressive.
Stable-companion Azwa is equally home-bred filly by Kaolino, a champion racehorse and sire and a multi group-1 winner who has also landed the prestigious $250.000 Dubai Kahayla Classic Group-1. She has also finished second to stable-companion Ladjani de Paimas when narrowly beaten by a short-head over nine furlongs at Wolverhampton last May. It has been reported that her inexperience cost her the race’s result. But, she went one better to win a maiden event at the same track beating stable-companion Nasemah over a shorter distance.
However, the only threat to the Shaikh Hamdan’s contenders comes from the Omani mare Al Batra’a who makes her Newbury debut under S A Walker in the distinguished silks of the Oman Royal Cavalry.
Trained by S A Al Hakami, the seven-year-old daughter of Newday has won a Conditions race over a mile under top weight last time out when she defeated Marwah in a two-horse race at Taunton in August.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Al Qubaisi, communications director at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said: “We are delighted to see the Wathba Stud Cup races hitting such a great level of strength and attracting horses from within UK and abroad.
“The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority is planning a number of activities to support the Arabian horse races worldwide, and at the top of our efforts comes Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup,” he added.
Ms Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Racing Festival and head of IFAHR ladies racing elaborated: “Under the directives of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, we are here to stage the seventh round of the Wathba Stud Cup to support small owners. We are delighted to see such a huge numbers of entries for the two races. The first entries for the Wathba Cup has attracted 17 horses aged three years and above and this underlines the progressive nature of the festival.”
The same opinion was echoed by Adnan Sultan, director general of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Talal Al Hashemi, representative of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abdul Rahim Al Hashemi, PR and international cooperation manager of the UAE General Women’s Union and Stephen Bowey, Executive Director (corporate development) Invest AD.
In the meantime, three more Wathba Stud Cup races will be stages in Belgium, Holland and France on August 12, to be followed by one race in Germany on August 15.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival is organized to promote purebred Arabians in different parts of the world with the sponsors being the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and co-ordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority ,IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by General Authority for Youth and Sports and Fegentri with Emirates airlines as the official carrier and sponsored by Invest AD, Al Rashid Investment, Areej Al Ameerat, Mauzan, AlAwani General Enterprises, Kabale, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012, Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.