The Arabian Racehorse - Dubai Kahayla Classic 2023

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Winter 2023 Supplement The Dubai Kahayla Classic 2023



4 A First Classs Ambassador

8 Al Aweer Farms continue to expand

11 Dubai Kahayla Classic Preview

Front cover image: First Classs (US) and Ronan Thomas go to post for the 2022 Dubai Kahayla Classic

Welcome to this special edition of The Arabian Racehorse previewing th UAE's most prestigous race. We also speak with the breeder and lessor of the 2022 winner, First Classs and to the UAE's most successful breeder of Arabians and the Emirates five time overall leading owner, of any breed, Khalid Kahlifa Al Nabooda. This supplement will form part of the forthcoiming Gulf Review, published in April.

Year on year Arabian racing continues to grow in the Gulf and with the increase in prize money for such events, international interest in these races grows with it

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3 D u b a i K a h a y l a C l a s s i c S u p p l e m e n t - 2 0 2 3

Rarely has a horse been so well named First Classs has now won three races worth a million dollars or more and has finished in the place prize money in three others He lines up in the 2023 Dubai Kahayla Classic as the defending champion, alongside the 2021 winner Deryan, both horses chasing the hoofprints of the three-time winners, Alanudd (1997-1999) and Madjani (2005-2007)

Anybody can buy a great horse - if you have the money - but to breed one is a significant achievement. Deb Mihaloff of Cre Run considers it a “ very humbling experience, but a real burden too”. She and her husband Alan Kirshner have worn this heavy crown before, with their champion mare, Royal Atheena, and have been the recipients

of numerous Darley Awards in the US for their stock First Classs is different though Not least because he is a gelding, and that he runs in another’s colours, but also because unlike their other horses, he has taken the fight overseas, winning first in Qatar, then Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as valuable fifth places in the UK and France

Speaking after First Classs’s win in Abu Dhabi’s 5,000,000 AED Jewel Crown (Gr1PA) in December, Mihaloff says: “When you have a horse of that quality, the betting public expects it to turn up at every race – it is the human element, the owner, the trainer, the jockey, that lets the horse down.”

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Deb Mihaloff of Cre Run Farm at the training track at Meydan

It was following that win, when neither Mihaloff or Al Kaabi family who lease the gelding, were unable to attend, that Mihaloff observed that there was no trophy for the breeder. After mentioning this to the organisers of the Sheikh Mansoor Festival, a replica of the winning trophy duly arrived in January of this year,

“I was so appreciative of getting that trophy – as Jean [de Mieulle, trainer] said, ‘it’s nice to be able to look at something that you ’ ve earned and to remember the moment’ and he’s absolutely right I think this industry needs to give more respect to their breeders, as they are its’ cornerstone

“A little meant a lot ”

That win had been of particular significance for other reasons too, as she had renegotiated the terms of First Classs’s lease just a week before the race

“I’m a firm believer in that you don’t change horses’ mid-stream - meaning my partner or my silks and so on, as it always went downhill when I did it in the past I’m very superstitious and I just changed the percentages a little Nasser and his family have turned out to be very good partners We speak after every race and we plan the horses’ campaign together

“When you get a good lease partner you don’t change, this lease has been a good lease I‘m very

thankful to Eric Moreau Sipiere who helped arrange it In that first year when First Classs didn’t even win a race, it was tough, but Nasser really knew that the horse had potential, as he’d won here in the States as a three-year-old. He wanted to continue and I needed to get Cre Run’s name out there on an international scale and this was the best way that I could do it."

Mihaloff is keen to emphasise the value for breeders that embrace leasing. She sees it as both a way of giving their breeding a wider audience and the opportunities that it can bring to the sport in general saying: “I would hope that First Classs’s success would encourage some of the big owner breeders to lease out their horses – to help the industry overall, you know?

“That’s what people have got to understand We can’t be individual islands, only thinking of our own back yard We’ve got to be thinking of the Arabian back yard, and it’s a huge yard now - but it does need organisation and some thought put behind it all ”

She is very thankful to the sponsors of these very valuable races, which allows her to lease out a horse of First Classs’s calibre, which enables her to give him the best opportunity to run overseas Since the Jewel Crown win, she learned that the HH The Amir Sword’s prize money for the 2023 race was to be increased to $2 5 million USD

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First Classs (US) and Ronan Thomas after winning the Jewel Crown (Gr1PA)

“From a breeders' standpoint, I still have the dam, who is in foal to Dahess, and I have two full sisters, so I’m looking at the value that will be put on the females in this line, as well as the future foal I’m looking at it a little differently The IRS [US government tax department] don’t understand breeding, or winning and losing Even Nasser questioned why I gelded him, but it wasn’t just in the horses’ best interest, it was in the interest of his bloodline, so that the family could be shown to it’s best advantage

“At the time I was winding down my breeding program I had one more crop after him, as I thought I was getting out of the business as I saw it dwindling in the US I wanted to give First Classs the best opportunity to achieve his potential and it was my trainer, Lynn Ashby who was requesting that he be gelded He was a handful He was still a handful for Alban [de Mieulle] who trained him that first year in Qatar He was a tough horse, and Ronan was the first jockey to really get along with him ”

“A lot of people don’t understand and won’t geld a horse I think people should give it more consideration, if they want to win, to give the horse the best opportunity it can have and that’s what we did with this horse

“Look at his body type, he’s a very lean horse His heart girth is so deep, but he’s very narrow when you look at him head on He’s not a wide, chunky, French-looking horse Those heavy types can’t have a turn of foot when they have all of that weight and bone on them He really looks like an Arabian ”

Since the Jewel Crown, First Classs has gone on to compete and finish a respectable fourth in Qatar’s Amir Sword, in a race that wasn’t really run to suit him It’s position in the calendar, prior to the Saudi Cup meeting where he won the Al Mneefah, means that this year he has an extra week between his next big assignment, the Kahayla Classic

First Classs (US) and Ronan Thomas return after finishing fourth in the HH The Amir Sword (Gr1PA)

Bringing her thoughts right up to date, Mihaloff comments: “When I think about having bred a horse that competed in the Amir's Sword, I get very humble Competing on this level, it’s a compliment just to be a part of it

“I have been doing business in Qatar since the 1980's I have always known the importance of the Amirs Sword race and the prestige it holds Not just for Qatar but for Arabian racing worldwide Over the years many times the race was won by Umm Qarn or Al Shahannia So it was good to see Abbas win for Wathnan Racing and a welldeserved win for Alban, who along with his wife Patricia have generously given of their time to grow Arabian racing

“This is not a race that just anyone can get into, and this year ’ s quality of competition was without exception, one of the best fields ever run We were honoured just to have a horse in it This could not have happened if not for many people For one, the Lessee Nasser Al Kaabi who has overseen and managed First Classs's career since leaving the USA He has made sure that the horse has everything he needs and had confidence in the horse from the outset

“His trainer Jean de Mieulle has done a nice job training First Classs since the horse left Alban. Classs returned to France where he is prepping for the Dubai Kahayla Classic. We know he will make us proud he always does. We know we have been blessed to have this magnificent animal in our lives, making our dreams come true.”

She hopes that given First Classs will have no progeny, he may become an ambassador. An ambassador for the Arabian breed, an ambassador for gelding to achieve potential and as an ambassador for lease partnerships All of which would be a suitable legacy for an already great horse

Meanwhile his dam is carrying a full brother or sister to him, due on March 13 Mihaloff signs off her WhatsApp update with the message, “I’m on foal watch, Toppoftheclass has wax ”

First Classs (US) and Ronan Thomas win the 2022 Dubai Kahayla Classic (Gr1PA) First Classs (US) with Jean de Mieulle and Deb Mihaloff

In October 2022, owner breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda was honoured three times at the inaugural Emirates Racing Authority Awards, receiving trophies as leading UAE owner, Leading UAE breeder and also for his AF Al Buraq, as leading UAE Arabian sire for the 2021-2022 season The Arabian Racehorse caught up with Al Nabooda at the start of this year ’ s Carnival, to discuss his success to date and his plans for the future

Regarding the awards he says: “Of course this only goes to prove that I am making the right choicesthe right program, right trainer, right jockey, right staff, right feeding, right methods in raising our young horses It proves we are doing things in the correct way ”

However he is not fixed in his outlook, believing that there are always small improvements that can

be brought about by making changes He likes to experiment with his breeding, allocating around a fifth of his breedings each year to trying different lines to see if they work well together, particularly for his new stallions He feels it is very important that each young sire gets enough mares, and a variety of mares, in order that they can be given a fair assessment of their potential

As the Dubai World Cup approaches, the 2022-2023 ERA season is nearing completion and currently Al Nabooda is eight wins ahead of his nearest rival Godolphin He already has five owners ’ championships to his name, and could, with good fortune, claim a sixth He is grateful to be in this position but does not take it for granted

“I am happy where I am, but to continue to compete at the top level, you face a lot of challenges "

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2019 Kahayla Classic winner AF Maher (AE) - principal stallion at Al Aweer Farms

"These challenges can change year on year, race conditions or distances may be revised, or the track surface may change, like at Meydan from Tapeta back to Dirt. All these have to be considered as part of the breeding program and sometimes you are not able to adapt as quickly as you would like ”

With his first homebred champion stallion AF Al Buraq now in the twilight of his career and based in France, Al Nabooda now looks to his sons to pick up his mantle After the success of AF Mathmoon in the Kahayla Classic, who he had gifted to his mentor the Late HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, AF Maher gave Al Nabooda immense satisfaction in winning another Kahayla, this time carrying his own colours. AF Maher is now siring his own foals, along with AF Al Sajanjle, who was AF Al Buraq’s first Group winner. Discussing the excitement of this next generation of his breeding he says:

“It is the same feeling as when you have children and grandchildren – you get very proud When you look to their pedigree and you see your mark, ‘AF’ and you see the sire and the dam and maybe the third generation also as ‘AF’ of course you are proud, you are happy You want to see the result of

what you have done over all those years. The new challenge is if these stallions can pass their good genes on, you have to have the patience to wait three or four years to see the results on the track.”

With these new homebred stallions, it has required the purchase of new mares, of which he comments: “I believe that it is always good to get in new lines, though I have most of the main bloodlines available However I will not be the kind of breeder who is blinkered, and limit myself to just a small selection of mares I study the pedigrees very well and if I can use my own stallions, then I will ”

The latest development is the addition of a fifth farm in the UAE, to compliment Al Aweeer, Al Bahayes, Al Madam and Al Hanouf This will be for broodmares and for 17 of his stallions and will be named for his champion as AF Al Buraq Farm

“It has been built in two stages, in the first stage there were 105 boxes built for broodmares, the second stage another 105, so it will be over 200 boxes, it will be a facility that has everything In two or three months it will be ready to start moving horses in "

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A foal with a salt block at Al Aweer Farm

“It's quite big, it’s like my three smaller farms all together, behind one boundary wall. It will l be a bit different though, if you see Al Madam Farm, you will see the nursery paddocks are small as I don’t like the foals to run too much when they are born, but at this new farm, but the mares will be in much bigger paddocks together, so they won’t fight As you build each farm you learn from you mistakes and you use what is more suitable for our weather Some of the fences are topped with electric to prevent wind sucking and cribbing, whilst there will be a separate room to cool the water, because the water when it stays in the pipe or the tank it can become too hot ”

The new farm is also in the Al Madam area, in the Sharjah Emirate. It is located near the mountains and in the summer, the area is very dry, with no humidity. Though it isn’t as close to his other farms as might be convenient, he also sees the benefit of not having everything too close together, and is pleased that he was able to secure a much larger area of land than his other farms

As for who maybe next for the breeding shed, Al Nabooda considers that AF Alwajel could go to stud at the end of the season following his second win in the Group 3PA National Day Cup He

observes: “I was so happy to see AF Alwajel win the National Day cup over a mile. I love that horse, and there are many people who love him too, if he ran in the Kahayla Classic, maybe after that we will retire him, because I like to stand any stallion when he is at the top ”

T H E A R A B I A N R A C E H O R S E 10
The remainder of this inteview will appear as part of the full Gulf Review in the forthcoming Winter 2023 edition of The Arabian Racehorse AF Alwajel (AE) wins a second National Day Cup (Gr3PA) in Abu Dhabi in December A mare with her foal at Al Madam Farm

As one of the most coveted Group 1PA events in global Arabian racing, the Dubai Kahayla Classic will always attract some standout runners This year ’ s edition is no different and will likely feature two past winners, along with the current highest rated Arabian and the winners of all three rounds of Meydan’s Al Maktoum Challenge

Following his six and a half length win over RB Rich Lyke Me in the Obaiya Arabian Classic, Tilal Al Khalediah was rated locally as 128, making him the top rated in this field and in the World at present He certainly looks to be a bigger and stronger horse this year, easily winning his prep for the Obaiya on his seasonal return in January. His Obaiya win, and last year ’ s second placing aside, he has been campaigned exclusively at a mile or less.

In the Obaiya, he had his speedy stablemate Dananeer Al Khalediah to set the pace, though RB Rich Lyke Me, as is customary with ex-American runners, showed plenty of gate speed and kept tabs on the mare until the home turn when she faded out of contention Tilal Al Khalediah then

powered past RB Rich Lyke Me at the 400m pole and continued to draw further and further away A repeat performance could see a second Kahayla Classic go the way of AlKhalediah Stables and trainer Saad Mutlaq, however only Tallaab Al Khalediah has been able to reproduce his Saudi form in the UAE, and only at the first time of asking back in 2018

RB Rich Lyke Me (OR 124) was strongly fancied for the 2022 Kahayla, however all chance was lost when he encountered interference after only 300m, having to be almost pulled up and never recovered. Since that disaster he has won a second Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge over a mile, and raced twice in Saudi, on both occasions finishing second. In January he was four and a quarter lengths behind Dananeer Al Khalediah over 1400m, and latterly over six lengths behind Tilal Al Khalediah. He still looks a smart horse, though there must always be a slight concern that he remains winless over 2000m and has been a minimum over two and a half lengths adrift of the winner on each attempt to date

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Tilal Al Khalediah (KSA) and Adel Alfouraidi win the 2023 Obaiya Arabian Classic (Gr1PA)

The 2022 Kahayla winner First Classs (OR 126) has certainly not hidden away since his hard-fought success against Kerless Del Roc, where the pair pulled over nine lengths clear of Hadi de Carrere (who had beaten Tilal Al Khaliadh to win the 2022 Obaiya) He has changed trainers, with Alban de Mieulle now private trainer to Wathnan Racing, but has put any doubts about the abilities of de Mieulle’s nephew Jean to bed by winning the Jewel Crown in Abu Dhabi, beating a strong field including the world class mare, Lady Princess Also behind him that day were Dergham Athbah, and Hayyan, who he reopposes here

Finding the 2400m of the HH The Amir Sword a stretch too far in a really top class staying field when finishing fourth last month, he nonetheless kept Lady Princess behind him by a length and a half. He came into last year ’ s Kahayla off the back of a win in Saudi’s Al Mneefah Cup, this year he gets an extra week of recovery time, which could prove vital against those who ran at this meeting this year.

That includes Mutwakel AlKhalediah (OR 120) who was almost 11 lengths off his stablemate Tilal Al Khalediah when fourth in this year ’ s Obaiya He is another unproven at this trip with all six of his wins coming at 1800m or less, though was a length and a quarter off Mubasher Al Khalediah when

second in the 2019 Obaiya

Hiab Al Zaman and Deryan (OR 115) were disappointing in the Obaiya, both finishing eased down in eighth and ninth place respectively Deryan has never produced his best on Riyadh’s deep surface and was a much better prospect when he followed up to win the Kahayla in 2021 (Hayyan 10th) However since then, he has only won a conditions event in Pau, and has been beaten by First Classs, Kerless Del Roc, RB Rich Lyke Me and Hayyan

Hiab Al Zaman (OR 119) will be on something of a retrieval mission, as he is yet to reproduce his impressive US form since arriving in the Gulf last year. The US has few races beyond a mile and though his win in the UAE President Cup at Pimlico over 1700m was extremely eye-catching, he needs to bring that game to Meydan. His sole UAE start was there over 1900m in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge in which he was fourth, beaten over six lengths by Hayyan, though that outing in early February was his first since May the previous year He wouldn’t have lacked race fitness in the Obaiya, so such a disappointing run on a surface and track that compares favourably to those in the US would be a concern It will be interesting to see whether stable jockey Adrie de Vries will stick with him, or get back on RB Rich Lyke Me

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RB Rich Lyke Me (US) and Alberto Sanna finish second in the Obaiya Arabian Classic (Gr1PA)

Hayyan (OR121) has always displayed a certain amount of character and wasn’t an easy horse when successful with his first trainer, Freddie Sanchez in France He has no stamina doubts at this trip, having won over it five times, including the French Derby, the UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby and the Doha Cup, all at the top level. He was a long way behind First Classs on his first start for Majed Al Jahoori in the Jewel Crown, and in his next start behind Somoud, also at Abu Dhabi, both over 2200m, however his Meydan reappearance was faultless. Tracking the leaders he led in the closing stages running on well through the line to take Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge. As well as Hiab Al Zaman (4th), he may face Rajeh (2nd), Barakka (3rd), Deryan (5th) and Jugurtha De Monlau (7th) in the Kahayla

Jugurtha De Monlau (OR121) leapt into prominence of the back of his repeat win in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge over the course and distance of the Kahayla earlier this month The race has always been viewed as a poor prep for the Kahayla, with only AF Maher defying the statistics to win the main event in 2019 He was beaten a distance by First Classs in last year ’ s running and though he won Round 3 in a quicker time than last year, the concern would be that in this stronger company, he may struggle to reproduce the form of that win

Kerless Del Roc (OR 120) was a six-length runnerup to Jugurtha De Monlau in Round 3, and was only beaten a head by First Classs last year, however he has had a few injury issues and was been found to be lame when finishing last, beaten a distance, by RB Rich Lyke Me in Round 1 in January. If he can regain his form however, he could be a force to be reckoned with.

Dergham Athbah (OR 115) was sixth in this last year, having raced wide, though staying on well. He has since left the UAE and is now trained in Saudi Arabia, where he finished seventh in the Al Mneefah Cup, having been third in it in 2022. He is yet to win at Group level and probably has too much stamina for this event

Rajeh (OR 116) seems to have been completely revitalised by outings on Dirt, he won Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge last year and was runner-up to Hayyan this However could only manage eighth place last year and no reason to see why he should get any closer, at nine years of age Off the same mark is Barakka (OR 116), a lightly raced five-year-old who is still open to improvement He shares his sire with AF Maher, but is yet to win at Group level, though has been placed behind a number of these, most recently when four and a half lengths third to Hayyan in Round 2

Hayyan (FR) and Ioritz Mendizabal win the 2019 UAE President Cup - UK Arabian Derby (Gr1PA)

Trainer Alban de Mieulle s k d h contest, though this time f Wathnan Racing With his Abbes choosing to stay in Mneefah fourth Salwa (OR on Dirt and his first in Gro half-brother to stablemate his time to find his feet an second with TM Thunder S

At the top of the field by n rated is AF Alajaj (OR 114 races from 1400m to a mi distance by First Classs in eleventh That was his first company and although he out sprinting type, with th 1400m to his name, the sa Manark who won in 2015. stronger horse than last ye Albahar with AF Mathmoo Classic winner bred by his

HH The President Cup (Gr1PA) winner Mujeeb (OR 121), stays in for now, but is declared for Abu Dhabi's Emirates Championship on 16th March If he came out of the race well, he could line up just two weeks later at Meydan Jethjath (OR 113) who was third to Jugurtha De Monlau last time, will be the next horse in should any of the others fall by the wayside

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Hiab Al Zaman (US) and Deryan (FR) at the finish of the 2023 Obaiya Arabian Classic in Riyadh AF Alajaj (AE) and Tadhg O'Shea before Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge won by RB Rich Lyke Me (US)

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