Local hero Le Bernadin (USA) became the first horse to score a second victory in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1
January 2016, Dubai, UAE ~ The Purebred Arabian Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 Presented By Longines Conquest Classic on Thursday, 5 January, saw Britain’s champion jockey Jim Crowley make a satisfying start to his new job as retained rider for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Riding the owner’s AF Mathmoon, winner of last year’s Dubai Kahayla Classic, Crowley stalked the early pace in a field of super-star Arabians. Half way through the 1600m ride, Crowly had his hands full as stable-mate Manark took the lead 700m out. Crowley’s mount found his stride, igniting in the stretch to make it look an easy win. RB Burn came in second with Marnark following in third.
“What a fantastic start and I have the monkey off my back straightaway,” said Crowley. “I was in a bit of a pocket at one stage but when we found racing room I was keen to go for home as he stays well. He actually surprised me the way he quickened and he was by far the best tonight.”
The rest of the card framed the Back-to-Back Victory for Le Bernadin in the $250,000 Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge.
The Al Maktoum Challenge R1 presented by Longines Elegance in Equestrian, was first contested in 1994 when Red Rainbow triumphed under Johnny Murtagh, and has never had a repeat winner. Keen to change that fact Tadhg O’Shea, drove the Sh Ahmed bin Mohd Al Maktoum-owned colt fast away from his draw in stall one.
Soon in front, Le Bernadin trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, faced a determined rush for the lead from a number of rivals, including Frankyfourfingers, staging an early challenge. The pace looked frantic as O’Shea decided to take his time and settled his mount around fourth, a move that was vindicated in the final 300m as Frankyfourfingers weakened, eventually falling to the back of the field. Long River under Mickael Barzalona was second by two lengths. Le Bernadin bettered his 2016 time by a small margin.
Full Race Results:[gview file=”http://www.horsereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Results_10576_Al-Maktoum-Challenge-R1-Presented-By-Longines-Conquest-Classic_18-30.pdf” save=”1″]