Seraphin Du Paon started Dubai World Cup night with a scintillating performance in the opener when he literally came from last to first to beat Nieshan in the Group One Dubai Kahayla Classic.
A winner of the President Cup in Abu Dhabi, the Philippe Barbe-trained Seraphin Du Paon was the obvious horse to beat in the 2000m race, but when they turned for home, he was still a long way off from leaders.
“He had a bad draw and I admit I was a bit nervous when they came into the straight,” said Philippe Barbe, who has worked in Oman, in China as well as in his native France, but has been based in Abu Dhabi for the last eight months.
“He does come from behind, but today he was quite far behind. It was a very exciting finish and I’m glad it turned out in our favour. It was very emotional. It’s been a while since I have won a race like this. I’m absolutely delighted and Olivier Peslier gave him a brilliant ride.”
It was the Eric Lemartinel-trained Nieshan who was forced to take the lead 300m out as he was just travelling too well. He produced an impressive turn of foot when asked by his jockey Christophe Lemaire and looked like he was going to be an easy winner. But Seraphin du Paon had also made his move at that point and was closing in progressively. Both horses drew upside in the final 50m and then Olivier Peslier just got that extra burst of speed out of Seraphin du Paon to beat Nieshan by a length.
No Risk Al Maury, who missed out narrowly last year already, finished third this time round, while Albar Lotois, trained like runner-up Nieshan by Eric Lemartinel came fourth.
Oliver Peslier said after the race: “I prefer to have him relax near the back of the field. If I keep him quiet I know he will finish well. I didn’t want to get there early and have him stop in front. Finding plenty of room, he finished strongly.”
Abu Dhabi based trainer Eric Lemartinel would have preferred to finish on the podium but admitted: “We have been beaten before by Searphin Du Paon and we knew he was the one to beat. Nieshan had to take the lead, he didn’t really have a choice, but he did well, we were only beaten a length. I’m also very pleased with Albar Lotois, who ran well to finish fourth.”