Smart’s Najda leads 1-2 in Al Huwaila Cup
April 20 2017 10:14 PM
Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC) vice chief steward Abdulla Rashid al-Kubaisi with the winners of the Al Huwaila Cup after Najda won the 1850m race at the QREC yesterday. PICTURE: Juhaim

HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani’s royal blue colours shone in the Al Huwaila Cup, yesterday’s feature at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC), with Julian Smart-trained Najda notching up her first win this season.
Najda, helmed by Marco Monteriso, led a one-two for Smart, with Hagwa running to her fourth straight top three finish. The Al Shahania colours also made it to fourth place with Jassim Ghazali-saddled Rasi, finishing right behind Alban de Mieulle’s Umm Qarn colt Sehab.
“The two fillies have run some race. I was expecting a second or a third, because there are some strong colts in there,” Smart, who had also won Wednesday’s feature Al Zubara Cup with Aaley Al Magam, told Gulf Times.
“It’s a shame that Hagwa couldn’t get her head in front because she deserves a win, but I am really happy for Najda.
“She comes to the races every time with some tremendous pressure, because she is a full sister of (2014 HH The Emir’s Sword winner) Assy. So everyone goes, ‘Oh, full sister of Assy, she must be a superstar’. But, you know, my two brothers (are) much, much better than I am. It doesn’t work that way.
“But I am happy for her. She lost her way. As a three-year-old she looked very nice,” Smart said about Najda, who had last won the Oaks in December 2015.
“And then we just kind of lost our way with her. Good for her and good for Marco. Marco does an awful lot of work for the stables behind the scenes, pacemaking and things like that for the big horses. So it is nice to get him a big win.”
Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani’s What A Surprise indeed threw a surprise in the Class 3 Thoroughbred Handicap event for horses rated 76-90, winning the 2000m in a thrilling finish. The three-year-old gelding had two victories to his name coming into yesterday’s race and both over much shorter distances.
Yesterday, Saleem Golam had the Ibrahim al-Malki ward follow early leader Shahbar, under Marvin Suerland, before making the move coming off the final bend. 
What A Surprise’s lead was threatened when Al Jasra Stud’s Complimentor, ridden by Jean Baptiste Hamel for trainer Tariq Issa, put a blistering pace on display to come ahead from the back of the pack. Complimentor was breathing down What A Surprise’ neck in the final few metres but the latter held on well for a memorable win.
Khalifa bin Sheail al-Kuwari-owned Itorio, schooled by Jassim Ghazali, had been in a good run of form coming into yesterday’s race, a Class 1 Thoroughbred Classified Stakes even for horses rated 96-115, having finished in the frame for two straight races.
The five-year-old added a win to that momentum, showing a clean pair of heels in the mile-long run, even as HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani’s Barwod, ridden by Richard Mullen, came dangerously close at the post. JP Guillambert had Itorio go into the lead coming off Gate 10 and then held on well throughout, despite a stunning Barwod run on the outside on the home stretch. Julian Smart’s ward had to settle for second, ahead of Majed Seifeddine-trained Al Mohalhal.
Qatari jockey Faleh Bughanaim registered his 11th victory of the season when he rode Mohamed al-Ramzani-trained MJ Lattam to the four-year-old’s second career win in the Purebred Arabian Handicap event for horses rated 90 & below.
Bughanaim had his ride stay closer to the front even as Al Majd Stud’s Teejann led with Mujahidah, helmed by Kelly Harrison, not too far behind.
As Teejann weakened, Mujahidah took the advantage but MJ Lattam was in pursuit and the latter edged out the Ghazali ward at the post by a neck. Smart’s Zahwah completed the top three under Mullen. Gerald Avranche helmed winners for two straight races, winning both the Class 4 Thoroughbred Handicap events for horses rated 80 & below.
First up, in the Division 2 race, Mohamed Hamad al-Attiyah-trained Geno, who impressed many on his Qatar debut last month, registered his first win around the track at QREC yesterday. 
The four-year-old gelding finished a little less than a length ahead of al-Malki-saddled Could Be, helmed by Golam, who had finished with three winners and couple of places a day before on Wednesday.
Next up, Avranche, along with his partner Inland Sea, trained by Stefano Ibido for Sheikh Mohamed, overcame a slow start and some traffic to register a memorable win on the day.
The gelding, who had finished runner-up a month ago, stayed at the back of the pack early on in the mile-long race before hitting traffic on the home stretch. Avranche took advantage of a timely gap and soon Inland Sea was moving forward and eventually edged out Yousef Bentaher’s Hi Holy at the post by half-a-length.
In the first race of the day, the only run for maidens on the card, Anas al-Seyabi guided Hamad al-Jehani-saddled Yara Al Khair to her first career win. 
The seven-furlong Purebred Arabian Maiden Plate event saw the five-year-old finish two lengths ahead of Smart’s Fazan for the win.

Race 1: 1. Yara Al Khair (Anas al-Seyabi), 2. Fazan (Richard Mullen), 3. E’zaaz (Tadgh O’Shea), 4. Fahdah Al Naif (Gerald Avranche). Won by: 2, 1 ½, ½. Time: 1L32.824. Owner: Ahmed Hassan al-Malki al-Jehani. Trainer: Hamad al-Jehani.
Race 2: 1. Geno (Gerald Avranche), 2. Could Be (Saleem Golam), 3. Rijm (Marco Monteriso), 4. Intenser (Shakir al-Balushi). Won by: ¾, 4, ½. Time: 1:35.792. Owner: Khalid Hamad MA al-Attiyah. Trainer: Mohamed Hamad al-Attiyah.
Race 3: 1. Inland Sea (Gerald Avranche), 2. Hi Holy (Marco Monteriso), 3. Aseer (Tomas Lukasek), 4. Poet’s Song (Faleh Bughanaim). Won by: ½, Nk, ¾. Time: 1:35.678. Owner: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani. Trainer: Stefano Ibido.
Race 4: 1. MJ Lattam (Faleh Bughanaim), 2. Mujahidah (Kelly Harrison), 3. Zahwah (Richard Mullen), 4. Kasser (JP Guillambert). Won by: Nk, ½, 1. Time: 1:31.910. Owner: Mohanned Jassim al-Yaqoot. Trainer: Mohamed al-Ramzani.
Race 5: 1. Itorio (JP Guillambert), 2. Barwod (Richard Mullen), 3. Al Mohalhal (Gerald Avranche), 4. Fourioso (Alberto Sanna). Won by: ½, 1 ½, Nk. Time: 1:35.067. Owner: Khalifa bin Sheail al-Kuwari. Trainer: Jassim Ghazali.
Race 6: 1. What A Surprise (Saleem Golam), 2. Complimentor (Jean Baptiste Hamel), 3. Goldenfield (Alberto Sanna), 4. Shahbar (Marvin Suerland). Won by: Nk, 1 ½, Nk. Time: 2:05.263. Owner: Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. Trainer: Ibrahim al-Malki.
Race 7: 1. Najda (Marco Monteriso), 2. Hagwa (Richard Mullen), 3. Sehab (Jean Baptiste Hamel), 4. Rasi (Tadgh O’Shea). Won by: 1 ¼, ¾, ¾. Time: 2:04.019. Owner: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani. Trainer: Julian Smart.

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