Gulf News, Satya Narayan – 03 04
Favorite No Risk Al Maury suffered a shock defeat by a pair of Eric Lemartinel-trained horses — brothers Nieshan and Albar Lotois — in last night’s Round Three of the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge, a result which leaves the Kahayla Classic (Gr 1) on Dubai World Cup night with no clear favourite.
Nieshan, a five-year-old son of Akbar ridden by Christophe Lemaire, had finished third in his three previous starts here in the UAE but all on the turf at Abu Dhabi. However, yesterday, he seemed to relish the all-weather Tapeta surface at Meydan to register a huge win.
No Risk Al Maury, the mount of Richard Hills, was the red-hot favourite and seemed set to justify that support when he hit the front at the two furlong post under Richard Hills.
But the Gillian Duffield-trained nine-year-old, a winner of this race 12 months ago and more recently a star of the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over a mile on the opening night of the Carnival, seemed to run out of gas as Nieshan found another gear for Lemaire to surge ahead and cross the line a length and a quarter ahead of his stable mate Albar Lotois, under Gerald Mosse.
It was a memorable 1-2 finish for the French trainer Lemartinel and owner Ali Haddad. “I am grateful to Lemartinel for giving me a few rides this winter and this is my first ever win here in Meydan,” said an elated Lemaire. My horse was in excellent condition and I did not have to be very hard on him. He did it very well.”
Lemartinel said he was confident of Nieshan running a big race. “He has been working well and I was confident. Both Nieshan and Albar Lotois are now headed for the Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night,” said Lemartinel, who won the race in 2008 with Mizzna.