When in autumn of last year Hyyaf Al Khalediah (Tiwaiq – WFA Harmony/Djebbel) handily won the race for the Criterium Stakes, he was easily proclaimed the Derby winner of the upcoming 2012 season. It seemed that he had a decisive advantage over his domestic rivals due to the racing-oriented desert origin of his ancestors. Yet in the week preceding the Derby this certainty appeared to have drained away.
Hyyaf’s trainer Małgorzata Łojek feared that her horse might not „endure” the length of the race. When asked whether the favorite stands a chance of being beaten, trainer Krzysztof Ziemiański, who was sending two of his pupils into the Derby battle, Walentino (Amarant – Warbia/Harbin) and Firo (Armani – Fira/Ganges), answered: “I think so, because it is not the same horse that he was last year. I mean in the Arabian Produce Stakes he just narrowly bested Czar-Hun (Drabant – Contra/Eldon). Of course, I would much like Firo to win, because I don’t have an Arabian Derby victory in my collection as of yet, but I think that the biggest chance of winning lies with Pirat (Akbars – Parafraza/Arbil). I’m placing my bets on him”, Ziemiański stressed.
There was quite a lot of fear of Hyaaf in the Pirat camp, but also plenty of optimism that the graduate of trainer Daruta Kałuba would not give in too easily. “I would be very happy even if he would’ve taken second place, but jockey Siergiej Wasiutow kept my spirits up saying that we could pull it off”, said Pirat’s breeder and owner, Grzegorz Sęczek, after the race, who breeds horses of the Arabian and Małopolska breed in Zakręt near Stara Miłosna (not far from Warsaw). Currently in Kałuba’s training stable, besides Pirat, he also has the Derby winner’s three year old half-brother, Poranny Blask (Porto – Parafraza/Arbil).
The field consisted of a record number of 19 horses, though more than ten were entered with too much hope in their abilities. Tactics were of importance. It wasn’t known which horses would dictate the pace during the race. Trainer Ziemiański feared that the race would be slow and that everything would be resolved in a fast-paced finish.
Fortunately that was not the case. A strong, even pace was dictated alternately by Walentino and Sarasati (Ganges – Sarmacja/Gil). One couldn’t shake the impression that trainer Daria Gutowska this time gave up her own ambitions. She helped her regular rider Wasiutow win the Derby and with good reason, because Sarasati and Belos (Ganges – Belgica/Gazal Al Shaqab) had lesser chances.
Halfway through the final straight Pirat brought on a decisive attack. Hyyaf tried to give chase, but it was clear that he was not succeeding. Meanwhile a brilliant finish was begun by Wielki Damati (Ontario HF – Wielka Dama/El Amor), trained by Jan Głowacki and bred and owned by Krzysztof Zakolski. His burst of speed was a huge sensation, as earlier in the season he raced only once and placed out of the money. He wasn’t able to get close to the winning Pirat, but managed to beat Hyyaf by 5 lengths. Fourth to cross the wire was Firo and fifth – Cekur (Amarant – Cesia/Pers).
„I am very pleased with such an outcome, because the victorious horse comes from a very good dam line. And overall it was a beautiful spectacle. I don’t remember to have seen as many as 19 horses compete in the Derby. There was a fierce battle from start to finish, which resulted in a track record. Could anything more beautiful happen?”, assessed Izabella Pawelec-Zawadzka, honorary President of the Polish Arabian Horse Breeders Society. “For me Pirat’s victory was a huge, extraordinary experience, especially since I expected second place. Meanwhile he won in such an impressive style. So many horses competed and it was mine that won: the youngest, the smallest and the best! I would like to thank all the stable staff with trainer Kałuba, head groom Marek Martowicz and jockey Wasiutow, who rode like a champ”, emphasized Grzegorz Sęczek.
The 2012 Arabian Derby
3000 m: 3’30,6″(35,6-35,0-35,3-34,9-35,3-34,5). A track record! The previous belonged to Gepard – 3’31,5, Derby winner from 1995.
Lengths: 5-5-1/2-1/2-3/4-4-1-3/4-short head-10-3 1/2-5-1/2-4-5-9-9-3/4.