x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Raihe is humbled by success

The Emirati trainer saddled Al Shemali to a shock victory in the US$5million (Dh18.3m) Group-One Dubai Duty Free for his biggest career victory.

DUBAI // Ali Rashid al Raihe is still soaking on the success he had on the Dubai World Cup night. The Emirati trainer saddled Al Shemali to a shock victory in the US$5million (Dh18.3m) Group-One Dubai Duty Free for his biggest career victory. "I am re-living those joyous moments," he said yesterday. "Those replays of Al Shemali's victory and the celebrations thereafter keep on replaying in my mind. It is truly the greatest moment in my training career.

"I don't have many top-rated horses but Al Shemali is one of few I do have. I must also thank all those owners who had have had faith on me. I wouldn't have achieved what I achieved if not for their continued support. And also my team, without whom I wouldn't have made it this far." Al Shemali, a six-year-old chestnut son of Medicean, was trained by Sir Michael Stoute and the Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, before moving to al Raihe's Grandstand Stables in Dubai to run in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Dubai Crown Prince.

Al Shemali's victory capped al Raihe's season with 32 winners and a maiden UAE trainer's crown, two more than the three-time champion, Doug Watson. He said: "I have saddled more and more winners every passing season for the past five years. This is my best. "When I look back from where I started in the formative years in the UAE's racing folklore, it has been a remarkable step forward for me as a trainer. It has transformed my whole life."

Al Raihe's former assistant, Mahmoud al Zarooni, also had a most memorable night with a win from his first runner as Godolphin's second trainer, when Calming Influence under the Emirati jockey Ahmed Ajtebi landed the Godolphin Mile. "Indeed it is a dream start as not many get this kind of opportunities," he said. @Email:apassela@thenational.ae