ABU DHABI // The trainer Eric Lemartinel started the new year in superb fashion by saddling a double under two different jockeys in Abu Dhabi last night. The Bahrain-based Gerald Avranche set the ball rolling for Lemartinel by claiming the opening race on Albar Lotois and apprentice Wancelas Walter steered AF Maqam Alezz to take the fourth race; the opening event of the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's Global Flat Racing Festival for the Purebred Arabians.
"They had run first and second in the same race a fortnight ago with some good horses behind them on that occasion. And on that form, we expected them to win again," said Lemartinel after leading an all-French celebration with the two jockeys. Avranche bought Albar Lotois home with a late run to edge out the hat-trick seeking Knife by a quarter-of-a-length over the mile-long distance. Knife, a five-year-old son of the 2002 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner, Nez D'or, ran a close second, battling all the way to the finishing line under the Argentine jockey Jesus Rosales in the 16-runner field. Waneesah W'rsan, under Lisa Jones, was third.
AF Maqam Alezz was held in the early stages but finished strong after kicking for home from the two-furlong marker to win by half-a-length over the same distance from the Safaldin Deeb's Ameer Al Sraya, who was forced to make up the ground after a slow start under Tadhg O'Shea. Deeb had won the previous race with Rachidia. The Dormane mare, under David Badel, produced a fine burst of speed to win from the top weight Vite Royale and Das El Samer.
Knight of Dance took the solitary thoroughbred event for the Emirati trainer Musabah al Muhairi under a pulsating finish from Wayne Smith. Dhruba Selvaratnam's 2007 President's Cup winner Ans Bach hit the front and looked to be heading for glory with 50 yards left, but Smith burst through to the front to win from Fervent Prince and Tawaassol. "We had to wait for a gap to appear and it opened at the right time," said Smith.
"There was a lot of early pace and we had to bide our time before making our move in turning for home." The Italian apprentice, Antioco Murgia, rode his first winner in Abu Dhabi on the Bakhit al Ketbi-trained Das Enbehar, who was drawn from the reserves. The six-year-old son of Bibi De Carrere came with a late burst to win by half-a-length from MH Wafi and the favourite Gharaaf W'rsan in the second race, a maiden for local breds.
Daragh O'Donohoe finished with a well-timed run to win the concluding event on the Satish Seemar trained Muzoon De Faust, who collared the Smith-ridden Muheeb, who tried to make all the running over the 11-furlong trip. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org