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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Eric Lemartinel double-handed in bid to defend Baniyas prize at Meydan Racecourse

Al Asayl Stables trainer says RB Torch and Mawahib are both prepared for Purebred Arabians race on Thursday

Al Asayl Stables trainer Eric Lemartinel, left, is the one to beat in Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
Al Asayl Stables trainer Eric Lemartinel, left, is the one to beat in Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National

Eric Lemartinel pins his hopes on RB Torch and Mawahib as the trainer looks to defend the Group 2 Baniyas prize for Purebred Arabians at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.

The Arabians kick off the seven-race card and will be followed by six runs all featuring thoroughbreds. The fifth race provides the feature prize – a Rated Conditions for Dh240,000.

Lemartinel believes his two runners can challenge for the Baniyas prize, both benefiting from one run each this season.

That being said, RB Torch could finish only in mid-division during his reappearance in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup Prep in Abu Dhabi three weeks ago.

“It wasn’t anywhere close to his potential, but being his first run of the season we hope he can improve,” the trainer for UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s Al Asayl Stables said.

“He won this race last year and has got a pretty good record at Meydan. He’s not got the best of the draw at No 8 gate over the seven-furlong trip with a sharp bend to negotiate. But we expect a big run from him.”

Stable jockey Pat Cosgrave takes the ride on RB Torch as he cannot make the weight on Mawahib, who receives a two-kilogram allowance for being a mare.

The stable jockey Pat Cosgrave is all set to take the ride on RB Torch in Dubai on Thursday. Getty Images
The stable jockey Pat Cosgrave is all set to take the ride on RB Torch in Dubai on Thursday. Getty Images

Fabrice Veron retains the ride on Mawahib after her excellent run to finish the best of the local challenge in fourth behind the overseas-trained trio of Al Samoosh, Fazza Al Khalediah and Joudh in the Dh5 million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, in Abu Dhabi on November 9.

She was also fourth in the Group 1 Kahayla Classic, the Arabian showpiece on the Dubai World Cup night in March.

“Like RB Torch, Mawahib is also versatile and handles both surfaces – the turf in Abu Dhabi and the dirt at Meydan – equally well,” Lemartinel said.

“Her form, going into this race, appears to be slightly better but that’s only on paper. For us, it doesn’t matter which one wins as long as one of them can finish the job.

“Obviously this is a stronger race and they have both got to bring in their A games to win. There are some pretty good runners but we are hopeful.”

The 1,400-metre race has drawn a maximum of 14 runners, and challenging Lemartinel’s pair are Helal Al Alawi-trained Cakouet De Bozouls, Jean de Roualle’s Mirna, UAE champion trainer Doug Watson’s Foaad and Ernst Oertel’s AF Al Sajanjle, who has to deal with a wide draw from Gate 13.

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Taamol will be the one to watch at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday. Reem Mohammed / The National
Taamol will be the one to watch at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday. Reem Mohammed / The National

Meanwhile, the trio to watch in thoroughbred feature are Ahmed bin Harmsh’s Rodaini, Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s recent winner Taamol, and Cosmo Charlie, one of Watson’s five runners in the race.

“He looks our best chance, along with Thegreatcollection,” Watson said. “Both are proven under these conditions and working very well. They have also been fortunate with decent draws.

“Cosmo Charlie perhaps needed his first run more than we realised, and Thegreatcollection runs well fresh. Hopefully, we have two big chances, but I would not rule out our other three."

Al Raihe added of Taamol: “This is a horse we have always really liked and are hoping can have a productive season; with his second win in the UAE.”