Group 1 $165,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 (PA 2000m D)
25 February 20221, Meydan, UAE ~ The only contest on the dirt track for the evening’s racing was also the sole Purebred Arabian race, the curtain raising 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 sponsored by gnfocus where Frenchman Jean-Claude Pecout doubled his UAE tally with the smooth success of Brraq (Mahabb (AE) x Fattana (FR) by Njewman).
A homebred 8-year-old entire owned by Yas Racing, he was given a confident ride by Pecout’s French compatriot, Ryan Curatolo, partnering the horse for the first time with Adrie de Vries suspended. Based in Al Ain, Pecout’s charge also won the 1600m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 and was second in the middle round, over 1900m, ridden by De Vries on each occasion.
Curatolo settled his mount in midfield before the pair made smooth progress to track the leaders on the home turn. As early leader RB Torch started to tire, Curatolo drove his mount past him, on the inside rail, committing for home at the top of the straight. They always looked in control thereafter, breaking the track record in the process, lowering the mark set by Tallaab Al Khalediah in the 2018 Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup card. Win time: 1:13:58
Curatolo said: “I had a lovely run round and was able to get on the inside rail on the turn and saved a bit of ground before challenging in the straight.
“They went a bit quick for him early on, but once on the rail, he was happy in a rhythm and it all went perfectly in the end. I am delighted to have a Group One winner on the international stage and have to thank connections for the opportunity.”
Second in was Oman’ Al Roba’A Al Khali ridden by al Moatasem Al Balushi for trainer Y Al Kalbani while third was AF Alwajel ridden by Tadhg O’ Shea for Ernest Oertel.