Rohaut Relishing Rajeh Renewing Rivalry with Rodess du Loup

The President of UAE Group 1 PA (UK Arabian Derby) on Saturday 15 September

14 September 2018, Doncaster Racecourse ~
The President of the UAE Cup (UK Arabian Derby) Group 1 PA will be run at Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday 15 September 2018, as part of the celebrated St Leger Festival, the biggest race day that Doncaster host in their calendar.

Sponsored by The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs this will be the third renewal of the race at Doncaster that is held exclusively for four-year old Arabian horses and run over a mile and a quarter, it boasts a prize fund of £80,000, with £40,000 to the winner and attracts the highest level of participation from horses across Europe. This patronage demonstrates a long-term commitment to Arabian racing in the UK as The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs celebrate their 26th year as a sponsor.

Journalist Russell Smith has been speaking to trainers in advance of the big day.

FRENCH trainer Francois Rohaut believes there is little to choose between his crack colt Rajeh and Rodess du Loup as they renew rivalry.

2017 Pres of the UAE Cup winner Nafees and Tadgh O'Shea

2017 Pres of the UAE Cup winner Nafees and Tadgh O’Shea

The pair will be meeting for the fourth time in the £80,000 mile-and-a-quarter four-year-olds’ contest – with the score 2-1 in Rajeh’s favour.

Rohaut’s charge stormed home by three lengths when they filled the first two places in the Qatar Total Arabian Trophy des Poulains at Saint Cloud (Group 1 PA) last September (2017). Rodess du Loup, trained by Charles Gourdain, gained his revenge in the Qatar Derby (Group 1 PA) at Chantilly in June when Rajeh was a close fourth, with another of Saturday’s rivals, Rijm, runner-up.

Rajeh turned the tables on his old adversary in the Doha Cup – Prix Manganate (Group 1 PA) at Deauville in August with the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani-owned grey prevailing by three-quarters of a length.

Rohaut, who trains at Sauvagnon near Pau, also runs Goumoh for the same owner, and the son of Jaafer is no stranger to competing at the highest level, having finished third behind Rajeh at Saint-Cloud last September, and sixth in the Qatar Derby.

Rohaut said: “Rajeh will probably be my best chance on Saturday, but Goumoh is improving and will run his best. Rajeh beat Rodess Du Loup twice and will try to make it three. Conditions will change, but my horse just needed blinkers to show he is still a top-class horse. These two horses are the best four-year-olds and are of equal quality.”

Gourdain is going for back-to-back wins in the race – which carries a first prize of £40,000 – having saddled Nafees to score 12 months ago, and is anticipating a bold bid from Rodess du Loup.

The Pau handler said of the Khalifa Hamad Al Attiya-owned colt: “I hope he will run well. Rajeh is a good horse. We have beaten him and he has beaten us, so we will try and do better on Saturday, but he is not the only one we have to try and beat.”

And he added: “I won the race with Nafees last year. I think they are a little bit different. Nafees can settle very well and finish very strongly. Rodess Du Loup is harder to settle and will need a certain amount of pace, but Christophe Soumillon knows him very well and knows exactly what to do with him.”

Rijm completes a formidable French raiding party and trainer Thomas Fourcy is hopeful that the Al Shaqab Racing-owned colt will be in the shake-up at the finish.

The La Palmyre handler said: “The horse is very well and for me he can be in the first three. I think Rajeh is the one to beat, but he can take his revenge on Rodess du Loup. Our horse always knows how to fight against the best.”

Fourcy won the corresponding event with Mahess Du Soleil when it was run at Newmarket in 2015, and also provided the third-placed horses in the last two years at Doncaster in Khataab (2016) and Motrag (2017).

He added: “He is the same level as Motrag with more courage and maybe not quite so good as Khataab.”

The home defence in the eight-strong field is headed by the Phil Collington-trained fillies Anfaas and Shomoos Athbah – the latter the mount of last year’s winning jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

The Newmarket trainer feels Shomoos Athbah will appreciate the step up in trip after the Athbah Stud-owned filly finished second to stablemate Mith’Haf Athbah in the Royal Cavalry Of Oman Clarendon Stakes (Group 3 PA) over five furlongs at Newbury last time out.

Collington said: “It was too short, but she still ran second to a horse that was a Group 1 winner, so that was no disgrace. She is not the most straightforward, but is very talented.”

Anfaas, owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum will be ridden by Jim Crowley, won a handicap at Chelmsford City in August.

Collington commented: “It is a big jump for her, but she is always one that gives 100 per cent. She is a consistent, game filly and all heart. I think it is a really hot race. The French horses set a very high standard and it will be hard to get in between them, but we will have a go.”

Asraa Min Al-Talqa and Abiyah Athbah represent a sporting challenge from Peter Hammersley’s Appleby Magna yard on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border, and the trainer is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his two outsiders.

Asraa Min Al-Talqa, owned by Forta Stud, has been out of form this season, and Hammersley said: “This has been the owners’ long-term target and you can only run in it once. He is in very good nick and has been working well, but those French horses are probably a class above ours.

Abiyah Athbah, running in the colours of Dilmun Racing, has had just one start when finishing a promising third in a maiden at Chelmsford City.

Hammersley added: “She is inexperienced and this is maybe a bit soon for her at this sort of level, but I think she will go on to be a good filly. We are always trying to win these races, but we have to be realistic and if we pick up prize-money we will do well.”

Photo: Equine Creative Media – 2017 winner Royal Cavalry of Oman’s colt, Nafees for French trainer Charles Gourdain in the hands of Tadhg O’Shea.