2012 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup
~ the first Arabian race in USA exclusively showcasing
international lady jockeys ~

Houston, Texas March 3, 2012 ~ SANDDPIPER wins the HH SHEIKHA FATIMA BINT MUBARAK LADIES IFAHR CUP ridden by Omani female jockey Fatma Almanji

Lady jockeys Fatima and Shathra make region proud

Oman and UAE riders take first and third spots, and USA rider takes second

Word compiled from reports by M. Satya Narayan, Chief Sports Reporter and Kyle Brown, Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park, March 3, 2012 ~ The $27,500 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup kicked off a seven-race series as part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nayhan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival.

The HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup is the first ever and richest Arabian race in the United States featuring all female jockeys. The international roster of accomplished horsewomen included Fatma Al Manji of Oman who found victory about her mount SANDDPIPER. Ten fillies and mares competed in the seven furlong stakes, which ran as the eight race of the Sam Houston Race Park card following the Grade 3 HH Sheikh Zayed Cup- also a part of the Festival.

Oman's Fatima Al Manji and the UAE's Shathra Al Hajjaj spent a few nervous hours before the race, then had to overcome poor starts, but the two lady jockeys did the region proud by finishing first and third in this spectacular event that drew new attention to Arabian racing and to females in the sport.

The two Gulf lady jockeys were not sure which horses they would be riding, before Fatima was finally named to ride SANDDPIPER instead of Explosive Heat MHF, while the up and coming Emirati Shathra was due to be on DIXIES VALENTINE, one of the pre-race favourites before it was scratched on the eve of the race.

When the seven-furlong race started, Fatima on SANDDPIPER missed the break, while Shathra on RICH KINKGA was slow out of the gates.

TM SUPER BIRD under American jockey Sandee Beattie, the hot favorite after DIXIES VALENTINE 's withdrawal, hit the front and led for most of the race. But Al Manji, who has experience from seven wins at home in Oman, kept SANDDPIPER close to the leader and then made a move once they turned for home.

Trained and owned by Bill Waldron, the five-year-old mare just kept surging ahead and, despite a second run by TM SUPER BIRD, the Omani stayed ahead and won by more than two lengths.

Shathra on RICH KINKGA did well to run into third place after being caught in the traffic.

Fatma enjoys a thrilling win on Sanddpiper

"The trainer told me to listen to my horse, but I was not very confident after a poor start. However, she started to move well and I sensed I had a chance. When I pressed her she moved away and it was a great win, my biggest and best," said the 24-year-old Omani.

Shathra who spent most of her time with Fatima during their US trip, was equally excited about her friend's win as she was about her own third place.

"When I saw the other horses hit the front I wanted to go, but it was a poor start and then I was near the rails and could not move out," said the Emirati jockey.

"Somehow I managed to bide my time and once I got an opening on the home stretch, the horse showed a fine turn of foot and I finished well," said Shathra who was unseated after she crossed the finish line. She gave a congratulations cheer to her friend from her new found vantage point.

Lara Sawaya is the director of both the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Head of IFAHR Ladies Racing.

"Today is the start of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival's racing for the year 2012 in the US, which kicks off with two races at Sam Houston Race Park on March 3," said Sawaya. "Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women's Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation and President of Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood has drawn huge attention to female sports. These races are held for the encouragement by Her Highness of the UAE lady riders in particular and the Gulf lady riders in general to show interest in the sport of our parents and grandparents."

"We are honored to host this exceptional racing event at Sam Houston Race Park," said Eric Johnston, vice president of racing. "Both stakes feature excellent fields of Arabians and we are pleased to serve as host site for the first race in this international racing festival."

The 2012 HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival Darley Awards also took place on Sunday, March 4 in Houston at the JW Marriott. This year marked the newly-introduced HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards of 6 categories for ladies: Best owner, breeder, trainer, jockey, Lifetime Award and Best Mare. In the traditional categories of Darley Awards, SANDDPIPER was crowned USA Darley Champion 4 Year Old Filly of 2011.

"We are looking forward to some exciting times with the Festival's activities here in the US and I have to thank His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America and his team for all their support as well as to Sam Houston Race Park, TABA and AJC," added Sawaya.

The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival is organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Arabian Horse Society and IFAHR, 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, Al Awani General Enterprises,Kabale, the UAE's General Women's Union, the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy,Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012, Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

Photo Credits – Coady Photography
See official Equibase Report/Full Results Chart here:

HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies IFAHR Cup

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