Peslier's tactics spot on but trainer admits he had concerns.
Seraphin accelerates to victory in Dubai World Cup opener
DUBAI // Seraphin Du Paon underlined his status as the country's top Arabian purebred by winning the Kahayla Classic yesterday, the traditional opening race of the Dubai World Cup meeting.
The five-year-old, owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, came with a trademark late run under Olivier Peslier, the French jockey, to win by a length from Nieshan with No Risk Al Maury a further one-and-a-half length behind in third.
The son of Akbar also won the Dh1 million President's Cup in the capital last month and his victory in the Kahayla Classic is the eighth success for an Abu Dhabi owner in the 16 stagings of the Arabian showpiece.
The President's Cup and the Kahayla Classic are the two biggest races in the country for purebred Arabians, both in terms of prestige and money.
"I was a bit worried when they were approaching the final bend because Seraphin was still at the back, and my worry was whether he would get caught in the traffic," Philippe Barbe, the trainer, said.
"But as they turned on to the straight, I saw Olivier taking up a good position on the outside and, at that moment, I knew he would win, because this horse has very good acceleration."
Peslier, who also rode him to the President's Cup triumph, said: "He didn't have a good draw [gate 13]. He was a bit keen at the beginning, so I preferred to relax him because I know he has a good turn of foot. It worked."
No Risk Al Maury, under Richard Hills, charged to the front at the 400-metre mark and Christophe Lemaire had Nieshan, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three winner, leading at the 200-metre pole.
But Seraphin made steady headway to hit the front in the final 50 metres and carry Sheikh Khalifa's silks to a third Kahayla Classic.
"He has improved since his President's Cup win and ran a better race," Barbe said. "He is a young horse and if all stays well, he will be a stronger horse next season. And for now, he earns a good long break.
Barbe, who has trained in his native France, the US, China, Tunisia and Oman before moving to the Al Asayl Stables in Abu Dhabi last year, plans to take the same route next season for the 2010 UAE Arabian Derby winner.
"It would be for his owner to decide where he goes next, but I would like to think it would be the same path, the President's Cup and the Kahayla Classic, the two most prestigious prizes in the Emirates," he said.