King Shalaa an International Star for Qatar

February 24, 2024

Faleh Bughanaim celebrates after crossing the line on King Shalaa (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mathea Kelley)

Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia Press Release

Alban de Mieulle’s Qatar-based squad came out on top once again in Saudi Arabia as King Shalaa (FR) claimed a tight finish to the US$500k NHC Saudi International Handicap.

The French-born trainer is a familiar figure from a long spell in the Middle East and he already had a magnificent moment at The Saudi Cup meeting in 2022, winning two prizes including this race when King Shalaa had finished runner-up to Lauderdale in a famous one-two.

It was stablemate Silawi (IRE), also carrying the colours of the emerging Wathnan Racing operation, who had looked the most likely winner for much of the 2100m turf event, with Mickael Barzalona dictating proceedings and looking to have more up his sleeve as the field turned for home.

His stamina began to ebb as the metres past and Faleh Bughanaim’s mount, who had been settled in midfield, burst through the pack to come home a length and a quarter ahead of an unlucky-looking My Frankel (GB), who had been third in 2022. Silawi held on for third with King Shalaa clocking a time of 2:07.15

Quotes:

Faleh Bughanaim, jockey, King Shalaa, 1st: “The trainer was very confident in the horse and told me we had a good chance today. When I ask him to go he gave me a good day. Today is one of the bigger races for me outside of Qatar.”

Alban de Mieulle, trainer: “He had some back trouble. I am very happy for his breeder Francois Rohaut. He will be very happy in front of his telly. He was a good horse and is coming back to form. He had a light weight today and was in very good condition.

“We hadn’t been able to run him for the last two months because of back issues. I am delighted. The other horse ran well too, but as his jockey Mickael [Barzalona] said, it might just be a bit too long for him now. He would like it a bit shorter.”

“This is a big challenge and it’s very important to come here. I like a challenge anyway and it’s nice to have the challenge. I don’t think they will go to Dubai now.”

Ali Al Kubaisi of Wathnan Racing: “We won the main races in Qatar and we continued in the UK with the Gold Cup and this is only the start. We are a big farm with many horses that compete anywhere. Yesterday we had a horse finish fourth in Meydan and today we have this winner. The whole team are so happy with what we can achieve.”

John Velazquez, jockey, My Frankel, 2nd: “We didn’t break as well as I wanted to and then we had to wait. And then wait some more. Finally, when I got loose, it was too late.”

Mickael Barzalona, Silawi, 3rd: “Ran a great race. For a while I thought it would be mine but he got tired in the end.”

Joel Rosario, Finest Sound, 4th: “Travelled and finished well.”

Alberto Sanna, Goemon, 5th: “I couldn’t follow the beginning as the pace was going fast. Then I was following the good horses. He finished OK but not challenging the winner.”

Vaclav Janacek, Furioso, 7th: “The track is a little bit too fast for him. He normally is better and sits in front. He finished tired.”

Flavien Prat, Abha, 8th: “We had a good trip but the track was too fast for my horse.”

William Buick, Slava Ukraini, 9th: “He was a bit fresh earlier on, he hasn’t run in a while. He was sort of there with a chance but he just wasn’t quick enough when it mattered. I think fair play for the owners and trainer to come here and try something new. He is unbeaten in Scandinavia this year and he is a decent horse.”

@PastTheWire bingo!!! 9/2 easy winner!!!

Rick St. Pierre @rstp354 View testimonials

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