x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Richard Hills hails the Dubai Kahayla Classic-contender Kandar du Falgas

The jockey says the 10-year-old Purebred Arabian is in the top 10 of horses he has ridden.

Richard Hills rode Kandar Du Falgas at the Meydan Racecourse Tenth Carnival Race Meeting.
Richard Hills rode Kandar Du Falgas at the Meydan Racecourse Tenth Carnival Race Meeting.

DUBAI // Richard Hills, the principle rider of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, rates Dubai Kahayla Classic-contender Kandar du Falgas as one of the top 10 horses he has even ridden

The 10-year-old Purebred Arabian stormed to an impressive three-length victory in Friday's 1,400m Bani Yas, a Group 2 race at Meydan Racecourse, and Hills rates him in the same company as 2009 World Cup winner Almutawakel multiple Group 1 winners Nayef and Haafhd and Ghanaati, the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Cup-winning mare, Ghanaati.

"This horse is 10 years old and he's still proving himself to be very competitive," Hills said. "He's very versatile, has nice travelling speed and a good turn of foot and they are great qualities in Arabian horses."

Hills won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on him at Nad Al Sheba fours year and the Doug Watson-trained thoroughbred now has five wins and seven seconds in the UAE. His performance on Friday night, when he beat Gillian Duffield's talented mare AF Alghabra into second place and broke the course record, made his 15th-place finish in the President of the UAE Cup race earlier this month in Abu Dhabi an anomaly.

"This horse never runs a bad race," Watson, the three-times UAE champion trainer, said. "He just got killed coming around the bend in Abu Dhabi. Luckily Richard knows him well and didn't push him so we had some horse left to run today [Friday]. To be honest I wish I'd never taken him there, but he has done very well."

The French-bred horse has been involved in his fair share of close finishes. Last year, Dariya beat Kandar du Falgas into second place while, more recently. he lost in a photo finish to Sahib du Clos in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and then AF Alghabra edged him out in the Group 2 Mazrat al Ruwayah.

He has, however, not really been in contention in the Kahayla, finishing fourth twice and eighth last season but Watson is ready "to have another go" at the 2000m showpiece Arabian race now the horse has stayed fully fit.

"The only thing about this season that has been different from years before is that for the first time he is 100 per cent sound," Watson said. "In training he just does his thing. He works on his own, does his laps around the track and he has no real work between his races. He will have to step back up in trip now for the Kahayla, but there weren't too many other options for him."

Hills concurs there is something special about Kandar du Falgas this year.

"He's been completely sound," said the jockey. "Any trainer will tell you that's a hard enough feat to achieve with a young horse. With a 10 year old it's that much tougher and is one more reason why he's such a star."

sports@thenational.ae