DUBAI // Stephane Chevalier, the new trainer, continued his success at Meydan Racecourse last night when he saddled a double with Strecker and Ceedwell in the first of three spring meetings at the track.
Chevalier, the former assistant trainer to Jerry Barton, the Saudi Arabia-based handler, has now struck three times with a stable of just 10 runners, while his horses have finished in the money an impressive six times.
"It's very pleasing for my first season," said the Frenchman, who was part of Barton's team when the pair claimed the World Cup-night Dubai Golden Shaheen with Big City Man.
"I was pretty confident that Ceedwell would run well, even though her form from France is horrible."
The chestnut filly ran unplaced on her last three outings, including one at Meydan Racecourse last month, when she was ninth.
But she got up well under Gregory Benoist in the 1,200m race yesterday to claim the win by two-and-a-half lengths from two Emirates Entertainment Racing Club syndicate runners, Indian Skipper and Kilt Rock.
"I knew we could not judge her on her past performance," said Chevalier. She had won one race over 1,000m when she was a two-year-old but apart from that nothing. But she has been going very well here and we knew she was better than she looked on paper."
Chevalier's only other runner of the night, Strecker, shed his maiden tag in the opening contest, also over 1,200m. Also ridden by Benoist, Strecker got the better of Serhaal under Richard Hills for trainer Ali Rashid al Raihe and the Satish Seemar-trained Al Razi, ridden by Harry Bentley.
"I knew the 1,200m would suit him," said Chevalier. "He's a nice horse and well bred for this distance and I think that he might make a Carnival horse next season."
Chevalier is training for the first time in the UAE, but he has also trained in Saudi Arabia.
He won that country's biggest race, the King's Cup, with the Argentine-bred Joe Louis before becoming Barton's assistant two years ago. "I was given the choice to set up on my own or train as Jerry's assistant and I decided that one year with a licence was not enough time," Chevalier said.
Judging by his recent success, the time is certainly right now and the trainer said he is enjoying being master of his own small string.
"When you have only 10 horses you have more time to spend on each," he said. "You can pick and choose the races for them and hope for the best."
Bentley, the on-form apprentice, added a 10th win to his season's tally, taking the 2,800m fourth race on Achill Bay. Bentley kept running his own race when Kerashan, under Antioco Murgia, set a furious pace to take a 15-length lead.
But Kerashan ran out of steam 500m from home, leaving Achill Bay to vie successfully with the William Supple-ridden Captain Webb for first across the line.
"I just had to sit on him," said Bentley, a 3kg claimer. "I didn't want to do too much. He was carrying a very light weight, which helped him in the finish."
Jesus Rosales, the Argentine jockey, made amends for the nine close-up seconds he has ridden so far, claiming his third victory of the season in the Dh90,000 feature race on Saboteur, trained by Abdullah bin Huzaim.
Seemar, the leading trainer, recorded his second win of the night when Radegund Abbey won the sixth race over 2,000m to end the night.
The pace picks up at Meydan Racecourse next week as the track hosts the first of the season's Carnival meetings.