Racing returned to the UAE on Thursday night at Nad Al Sheba but it was the Abu Dhabi-based trainers who struck first blood.
Abu Dhabi trainers strike first blood
Racing returned to the UAE on Thursday night at Nad Al Sheba but it was the Abu Dhabi-based trainers who struck first blood with Murawih landing the opener, a seven-furlong Purebred Arabian novice stakes, in the hands of the recently married Daragh O'Donohoe. The jockey was delighted: "That is a great way to start the season obviously and the horse has battled well to win." The trainer Eric Lemartinel was happy to see Murawih improve on his third in the seasonal curtain-raiser last year. O'Donohoe and the champion trainer Doug Watson had to endure a frustrating evening till they found some succour in the last race.
O'Donohoe did all the running on Lucky Ray to open his account and a relieved Watson said: "It is always nice to get a winner on the first night and start the ball rolling." The jockey Royston Ffrench and trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe have formed a powerful alliance in recent seasons and the pair visited the winner's enclosure on two occasions having landed both 1,500m handicaps with the striking grey Dubai Dreamer and Aamaqq.
The latter eased into contention three furlongs out before kicking clear well over a furlong out to make full advantage of the weight he was receiving from all his rivals. Ffrench said: "The grey horse I knew would stay, so was quite happy to go for home early and he has responded bravely. "Aamaqq was always travelling well and everything went according to plan. It has been a good night." Richard Mullen was a third jockey to partner a double and his first winner, Blues Ballad, could be a horse to follow after making a winning debut in the 1,400m maiden. Now trained by Satish Seemar, the four-year-old, never saw the track for Godolphin but looks the type who could make up for lost time.