Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Eric Lemartinel backs RB Torch to light up Meydan in Group 2 Baniyas

The first Pattern race for Purebred Arabians of the season takes place in Dubai on Thursday

RB Torch, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, won the Sheikh Zayed bin Sulatn Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Trial at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club last month. Pawan Singh / The National
RB Torch, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, won the Sheikh Zayed bin Sulatn Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Trial at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club last month. Pawan Singh / The National

The first Group race for Purebred Arabians of the season takes place at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Thursday.

The Group 2 Baniyas, run over 1,400 metres, has drawn the maximum field of 16 led by last year’s winner ES Ajeeb and the three runners that followed him home – Mawahib, Cakouet De Bozouls and Mirna.

ES Ajeeb comes into the race having finished fifth behind RB Torch in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Trial in Abu Dhabi over the 1,600m distance.

He was beaten only by a length and-a-half that day, and being an out-and-out sprinter, the five-year-old chestnut son of Big Easy will be heavily fancied to retain the prize.

Trained by Ibrahim Aseel and with his regular pilot Sam Hitchcott atop, ES Ajeeb is also well drawn in Gate 4.

“We won the race last year, but only by a nose because he was getting tired over the trip,” Hitchcott said.

“He is a very good horse, but hard to place because sprint races on dirt for Purebred Arabians, which is what he wants, are rare.”

Eric Lemartinel is double-handed with last year’s runner-up Mawahib and RB Torch, winner of the Jewel Crown Trial, who is also the choice of the Al Asayl Stables’ first jockey Fabrice Veron.

RB Torch finished well behind ES Ajeeb in the race 12 months ago but Lemartinel believes he is better placed this time around to challenge for the prize.

“He ran a very good race on his reappearance and seems to be back to his best,” said the Frenchman.

“They have both been working well at home and both of them hold good chances on their own.”

The remaining six races are for the thoroughbreds that includes three exciting contests with Dubai World Cup Carnival implications.

The fifth race, a Rated Conditions, is the feature of those three races with 13 runners. Heading the weights is Thegreatcollection, one of two for Doug Watson, whose stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, elects to ride new arrival Canvassed.

“He is a really nice horse, undoubtedly,” Watson said of Canvassed. “Obviously the dirt is the question, and whether he handles it in a race, but his work is very good and we have to be hopeful.

“We got him in August and started from scratch with him. He has a really nice cruising speed when he canters every day. He just doesn’t get tired. It’s a first step and we’ll see where we stand after this.”

Military Law is another new arrival to the UAE holding a decent European record when trained by John Gosden in the United Kingdom.

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, the Dubawi gelding has three wins from six starts.

“I think he’s a nice horse,” said the stable jockey, Antonio Fresu. “He’s working very well at home and we’re happy with him.

“The only thing is he’s coming from England, so the dirt in a race can be different than how he handles it in the morning, but he moves really well on the dirt.”

The National selections for Meydan

6.30pm: ES Ajeeb

7.05pm: Shanghai City

7.40pm: Laa Baas

8.15pm: Quartier Francais

8.50pm: Canvassed

9.25pm: Pirates Cove

10pm: Dahawi

Updated: November 25, 2019 05:47 AM

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