Published: July 18, 2009.
Newbury: A star-studded lineup of Purebred Arabians, including champions from three countries, will contest today's Group 1 Shadwell Dubai International Stakes feature race on the concluding day of the Dubai Summer Festival at Newbury Racecourse.
Fryvolous, winner of three Group 1 races, represents the UAE, No Risk Al Maury, a dual winner of this race, flies the flag for Great Britain, while Qatar is represented by the mighty mare Al Dahma, probably the best Arabian mare in the world.
The three superstars lend quality and undeniable glamour to a race that is celebrating its 27th anniversary under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Finance Minister.
Shaikh Hamdan himself has seen his famous blue silks carried to victory on 11 occasions since Bengali d'Albret gave him his first success back in 1993. More recently No Risk Al Maury scored back-to-back victories in 2007-2008.
The 7-year-old flag bearer of Arabian specialist Gillian Duffield is bidding to become the first horse to win the race three years in succession, and his trainer was yesterday talking up his chances of achieving that feat.
"He's a much better horse than he was last year and he's in great shape," Duffield said. "He won his prep race at Newbury [Group 2] very well and I would say he couldn't be better than he is.
"Obviously this year's race is one of the toughest, and perhaps No Risk Al Maury's toughest task ever, but I'm very hopeful he'll run a big race."
Assessing the opposition Duffield said Al Dahma "frightened her" with her tremendous record around the world, where the Qatari mare has destroyed her rivals in Turkey, Germany, France, Great Britain, and at home.
"She's a very serious mare and I would be worried about her," Duffield said. "While I'm not quite sure about Fryvolous as he did not particularly impress me with his performance at Newmarket where he struggled to beat inferior rivals."
However, Rod Simpson, who trains Fryvolous for the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, dismissed claims that his horse was not up to his best.
"People say he did not do much at Newmarket last time out, but that was the first time he was exposed to such undulating ground," the trainer said.
"The ground did not suit him as well and let's not forget it was his first run in the UK where the conditions are very different to the UAE.
"He's in great shape and I haven't seen anything in the race that will worry me, although I do respect No Risk Al Maury, who is a course specialist at Newbury, and the Qatari mare Al Dahma.
"But Fryvolous is a thorough professional. He's so laid back, but full of energy. This is his asset. For an Arabian I haven't seen anything like him before. He's the class act."