WHEN the red, red Citroen comes bobbing along, you know it’s time for the climactic car draw at the end of another Dubai International Arabian Raceday at Newbury.
And this year’s made it a two-and-one day for part-time trainer and Lambourn Primary School teacher Claire Taylor. Her partner Rob Woollard had just ridden their Parma into second in the final race of the day, the National Academy of Indian Payroll Handicap Stakes, worth £1,600 in prize money.
And then Claire herself pocketed the keys to an £8,500 Citroen C1 to make it a double celebration for the small East Garston operation, on a day when the biggest and smallest owners and trainers can mix side-by-side in Arabian Racing’s European showpiece.
“It’s amazing. It’s really worked out well for us today,” said a delighted Claire after receiving the keys to her car from HE Mirza Al Sayegh, “I’m thrilled to bits. I fill in the form every year but you never think you’re going to win.
“We were second in the last race, but now I’ve got a winner today!”
There were lots of those on Sunday, starting with the 9,105 racegoers who received free gifts for joining in, with local schools and in individuals receiving jewels, holidays and watches. And there was even success for the leading owner, the patron of the annual event and the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
He sent out a powerful string and was rewarded by four successes, two of those in key Group 1 races via Radames in the Jebel Ali
Racecourse Za’abeel International and in the featured race, the Shadwell Dubai International with the highly-rated Muraaqib.
Those came after he had won the opening two races with Jamaayil and Foaad.
Muraaqib’s success was not a walkover in a race that tested the runners over a mile and two furlongs before Muraaqib and
French rider Francois Xavier Bertras turned on the power to stretch his lead to two and a half lengths before setting a target of the Qatar Arabian World Cup to be hosted by Chantilly.
With a record 28 international runners on track, unbeaten Italian mount Urge Di Gallura emerged form the pack to win the Emirates Equestrian Federation International Stakes, and British trainers Adam Newey and Peter Hammersley scored for home yards in the final two races with Kamikaze and Zayin Zachilles at nice odds of 9/1 and 8/1 respectively.
ENJOYING the sunshine and hospitality were 14 local schools that entered the annual Arabian Rainbow competition, and coming up brightly was Englefield Primary, whose brightly coloured horse sealed the £2,500 prize.
School secretary Claire Bushnell was accompanied by pupils who had all played a part, although leading them all into the winner’s enclosure was impossible!
“We made sure all 100 children played a part,” she said, “colourings trees and flowers.
“We had a competition in which all the children painted a horse and Isobel in year six did the design we chose.
“But we did not expect to win at all and we are shock really. The school is very small and it’s wonderful to win.”
HE Mirza Al Sayegh presented the prizes and threw open the invitation to all local schools to enter next year’s competition, which will reach a climax at the 2017 Raceday on July 30.
“It was a very difficult decision,” he said, “with so many excellent entries. But we selected this because of the big effort by so many and the colouring.
“I hope that many more schools will enter next year and I am sure that schools can use the money for something useful.”
As well as runners-up prizes of £1,500 and £1,000, each school received £500.
RACING and hats go together, and so do well-dressed ladies, and they were all rewarded on Sunday.
Jade Butler from Little London, near Tadley had to come through two rounds to win the Best Dressed Lady prize - and jewels and a holiday trip to Dubai.
“I decided to really put an outfit together for the competition,” she said, “The hat was made especially, but I always shop locally so I bought it all in Hungerford.
“I am so pleased, and now I’m going to Dubai and the Rotana spa hotel It’s so special.”
For the children’s hat winners, there were new ipads for the winners, 14-year old Abigail McCormick and eight-year old Ethan Camm.