NAJM ALEMERAT ran out a determined winner of the Mezied Handicap (2000m), feature race of Al Ain Racecourse’s Saturday evening fixture.
The Eric Lemartinel-trained seven-year-old traveled strongly to the final turn and after rounding the bend was sent for home by his jockey Gerald Avranche.
The gelding hit the front halfway down the track’s long home straight hanging on grimly to see off the persistent challenge of eventual second Zeyad, in the process setting a new track record time for Purebred Arabian at the distance.
“We were hoping for a good run,” said Avranche. “I was second on him last time, over 1800m, when Madjanthat, the yard’s other runner today, beat him.
“But we were much better off at the weights today and he clearly really likes it here. The extra 200m has suited him as well.”
The Al Asayl Stables handler and owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan were soon celebrating a winning double after Al Yawazi saluted in the following event, the Faraj Hazza (1800m).
Jockeys’ Championship leader Tadhg O’Shea, who picked wrong when choosing Madjanthat over Najm Alemerat, got it right this time as the mare recorded her second career win, ending a drought stretching back to her maiden at Sharjah in December 2013.
“It has taken a while to get her head back in front,” said O’Shea. “But she has shown a great attitude and really battled for me.”
The jockey was completing a brace of his own, he had earlier combined with his retaining trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe when AF Maqayes won the Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1000m).
The lightly raced four-year-old led from the jump, running on strongly to make it three wins from just four career starts.
It was the seventh winner of the weekend sent out from Dubai’s Grandstand Stables following four at Meydan on the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday and a Jebel Ali double on Friday.
“It has been a great weekend,” said Al Raihe. “The horses are in really good form and hopefully will continue to be.”
Lanadam landed the Al Basrah Handicap (1800m), the only Thoroughbred contest on the card.
Trained on the Jebel Ali track by Dhruba Selvaratnam, the gelding, having his first tilt at the distance, was delivered late by stable rider Chris Hayes to hit the front 200 metres out and from there was always in control.
“He won very well the first day at Jebel Ali,” said Hayes. “That was over 1400m. He was staying on nicely here last time, over 1600m, and we hoped the extra 200m would suit him.”
Yamina De Monlau lost her maiden tag when Royston Ffrench, having his second ride on the French-bred mare, steered her to a comfortable four-and-a-quarter length success in the Oud Al Touba (1600m).
The Helal Al Alawi-prepared five-year-old turned out to be the first leg of a winning double for the trainer who saddled Al Waqqad to win the following race, the Seih bin Amaar Handicap (1600m), presenting apprentice jockey Hector Crouch with his fifth winner of the campaign.
The finale, another maiden, though this time for four-year-olds only, the Shabyat Al Rawdah (1400m), was won by debutant Sauternes Al Maury, trained by Doug Watson and ridden by Paul Hanagan.
The victory took leading owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s total to 29 for the season, 12 clear of his nearest pursuer for the Owners’ Championship title.