ABU DHABI // Having saddled 11 winners in the six meetings at the capital's racecourse, Eric Lemartinel is on course to beat his best mark in the UAE - a 15-winner season he achieved in 2007/08.
With a bit of good fortune, the Frenchman could have already passed this mark, having notched up 14 second-placed finishes this term.
Tonight, however, Lemartinel may have to take a back seat against his compatriot Philippe Barbe, the Al Asayl trainer, who has booked Kieren Fallon, the six-time British champion jockey, on all four of his fancied entries in the six-race card.
Barbe, who has a string of strong juvenile Purebred Arabians, can set the ball rolling with Fille De L'or, followed by Burkan Al Asayl in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic and Frynchman in the Abu Dhabi Championship. He can round it off by claiming the final race with No Limit Del Ma.
Lemartinel reeled off three back-to-back winners in the first three meetings and capped that with a treble last Sunday, which included the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic, a prize with prestige status for three-year-old fillies bred in the UAE, with AF Al Lijam.
Lemartinel has three entries in the opening race, a maiden for fillies and mares, in which AF Kahila carries his hopes on the strength of her first run of the season behind Sarabella and Sestamina, her stablemate, on November 7.
The four-year-old will be ridden by Gerald Avranche, the first-choice jockey for the stables, who comes up against Barbe's Fille De L'or, an unraced four-year-old daughter of Magic De Piboul, the 2001 winner of the Kahayla Classic.
"It's been the best start I have had in six years," Lemartinel said. "But, then, it's impossible to have winners every week. I don't have many strong juveniles but would expect AF Kahila [first race] and BH Fatan [second race] to run big races."