November 18, 2012, Abu Dhabi ~ Trainer, Eric Lemartinel, is looking forward to next month’s Group 1 National Day Cup after the victory of Nieshan in the prep race over the same 1,600m course and distance at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening.
A dual Group 1 winner for the yard last year, in HH The President’s Cup and Maktoum Challenge Round 3, Nieshan was given a confident ride by Gerald Avranche who held him up well off the pace before closing 400m out.
The pair hit the front with 200m left to run and were always holding the challenge of 2008 National Day Cup winner, Fryvolous.
Lemartinel said: “The 1,600m is his minimum trip and once he hit the front I did not think he would be caught. It is a good effort to win over this trip first time and we will be back in three weeks for the Group 1 National Day Cup itself.”
Class again prevailed in the Thoroughbred equivalent with Derbaas, winner of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort in February 2011, winning for the first time since and leading home a 1-2-3 for owner HH Shekh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe saddled the winner with the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill picking the right one and riding a first local winner for his new boss.
O’Neill said: “He has done that nicely and was always travelling like a class horse. It is a long time since I had a winner here at Abu Dhabi and it is great to win this race in these silks and that is a great result for Sheikh Hamdan.”
Racing opened with a 1,400m maiden and, as he had done at Jebel Ali on Friday and Sharjah on Saturday, Jaber Bittar saddled a winner in the shape of debutant Sabbaq who led in the dying strides under James Doyle who has also enjoyed a good weekend. Doyle said: “I did not think we would get to the runner-up and it was literally the last stride we led so it was a good first start and he should build on that, perhaps over further.”
The trainer then saddled a 1-2 in the following 1,600m maiden with Doyle on this occasion denied in the dying strides by Pat Cosgrave on Kerkouan, who had shown a lot of promise when second on his sole previous racecourse appearance in March. Cosgrave said: “I rode him over course and distance last season and he stayed well so I was always hopeful of getting there and he tried hard for me.”
Ernst Oertel then repeated the trick by saddling Al Mouttakel to win the 1,400m handicap under Daragh O’Donohoe.
O’Donohoe was able to drive his mount past long time leader and stable companion Marjan Al Asayl. It was the first winner of the season for the ever popular jockey, who said: “I have ridden some nice big winners for this yard in the past so it is nice to win here for them.
“My horse had the advantage of a run under his belt last week and that probably proved crucial close to home.”
The other race, a 1,400m fillies’ maiden, was won by debutante Latifa Princess, supplying trainer Saifaldin Deeb and jockey, Sam Hitchcott with their first winners of the campaign.