ABU DHABI // Ibn Battuta emerged as a Dubai Carnival candidate for the Emirati trainer Musabah al Muhairi with a win over the favourite Kalahari Gold in the President's Cup. The Seeking The Gold colt held on gamely under Wayne Smith to win by three-quarters of a length from Kalahari Gold with the National Day Cup winner Jaasoos in third.
"We always had high regards for this horse," said Smith. "Some people thought it was a big step up. But he stuck to his task tonight. He stayed well even as Jaasoos and Kalahari Gold challenged him from the two sides." It was Ibn Battuta's third win over the course and distance from four starts. Smith had him handily placed with the leading group over the seven-furlong trip as Tadhg O'Shea had Kalahari Gold switch to the outside to make his challenge and Jaasoos under William Buick stayed on gamely but was one-paced.
Saifaldeen Deeb's Najem Al Khalij took the Meydan Godolphin Parks Abu Dhabi Colts Classic in fine style under an enterprising ride from Royston Ffrench. The Bibi De Carrere colt had to come from a long way back to collar stable companion Ameer Al Sraya, ridden by O'Shea, to claim the prize for three-year-old colts, bred in the UAE and run over a mile. Naseem Al Reef, trained by Eric Lemartinel and ridden by Gerald Avranche, was third.
"They set a strong early pace but this horse has a lot of speed," said Ffrench, who rode the colt to win a maiden race in Sharjah on his debut a fortnight ago. "He showed a lot of speed to come around a wall of horses and won pretty well at the end. He's a progressive horse. He is still a baby and now two out of two is an excellent record." The Argentine jockey Jesus Rosales came with a challenge from the outside to get up in the final few strides on Samira De Carrere and beat Sahib Du Clos by a head in the Meydan Horizons Abu Dhabi Championship for three-year-olds over the same mile trip.
The Jaci Wickham-trained, locally bred, filly, Raeaa W'rsan, under Richard Mullen ran well to finish third ahead of Haatef, a winner in the UK on his only start. The favourite Forgehill Cezanne finished a disappointing seventh. Another Argentine jockey, Carlos Sandoval, rode his first winner in Abu Dhabi, guiding Ahmed al Shamsi's Milan Ghantoot to victory in the opener, a conditions race for locally bred Purebred Arabians over seven furlongs.
The French apprentice, Wencelas Walter, made all on Mahmoud Hussain's Dayrah half an hour later to claim the maiden for fillies and mares. Michael Kettle's Limeted Edition had to settle for second for the third time in three starts for the season. firstname.lastname@example.org