Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

RB Torch lights the way in Jewel Crown Prep

Stablemates emerge as top contenders for world's richest race for Purebread Arabians

RB Torch, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, wins the Jewel Crown Prep at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Pawan Singh / The National
RB Torch, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, wins the Jewel Crown Prep at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Pawan Singh / The National

RB Torch and Darius De Paon emerged as top contenders for next month’s Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, at Dh5million the world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians, after Abu Dhabi's opening meet.

RB Torch, ridden by seven-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, led a one-two finish for the UAE President’s Al Asayl Stables in the Jewel Crown Prep, a Rated Conditions race over 1,600m.

The Eric Lemartinel-trained eight-year-old , son of RB Richie, won by a length from stable companion Darius De Paon.

Lemartinel said: “This is a much needed prep race because in the past there was not one, and we were running in the Jewel Crown on seasonal debut, which was not ideal for the locally-trained horses.

“We’ll see how they have come out of this race and they will both most certainly go for the Jewel Crown (on November 24). RB loved the fast pace in the race and Tadhg knows him well, and I didn’t have to tell him how to ride the horse.”

Lemartinel was critical of the Abu Dhabi track, pointing out the conditions were not ideal for an opening meeting.

“I’m disappointed at the state of the track, especially for the season’s opening meeting,” said the Frenchman. “The underfoot conditions were soft. It was over-watered and less grass on it, and it left deep holes after every race.”

O’Shea, 37, rode his first winner for the season after ten attempts and relished lifting the feature prize on the six-race card.

“It was a nice first winner of the season and it was indeed nice to get off the mark in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “They went very fast which really suits this horse who I know well and have enjoyed a lot of success on.

“When he was a three-year-old we really thought he would go right to the top, but Eric and his team seem to have found the key to him now and he seems best when not racing too regularly. There is just over a month until the Jewel Crown itself and this prep race looks to be ideal for him.”

ES Ajeeb, ridden by Sam Hitchcott, set a strong pace in front until 200m from home when RB Torch hit the front.

Jose Santiago, on board Darius De Paon, challenged on the far rail but met some traffic problems before running on strongly, but never looking likely to catch the winner.

Ana Mendez celebrated her first winner with Saarookh in the third race having taken a trainer’s licence this season.

The Argentine endurance rider, who has been working in the UAE as an assistant trainer for five years, is now in charge of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s Al Wathba Stables.

“Obviously I’m thrilled saddling my first winner as a trainer in the first meeting for the Arabians in the season,” she said after Richard Mullen brought Saarookh home with a late run.

Updated: October 26, 2019 11:00 AM

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