Al Raihe flies through Meydan feature

Emirates sponsored Thursday evening`s first meeting of the new season and Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe continued his flying start to the new campaign when saddling no less than four of the six winners.

These included both of the featured handicaps with Rochdale landing the main race, the 2000m handicap, under stable jockey Royston Ffrench. A winner over 1900m on the equivalent card last year, Rochdale clearly goes well fresh but did also win on his second start last season.

The winning jockey said: "This horse relishes this Tapeta track and is versatile with regards to trip. We were definitely hoping for a big run from him and he certainly did not disappoint."

Ffrench had earlier won the 1600m handicap on stable companion Il Grande Maurizio, before completing his own treble in the concluding 1900m handicap on Zain Shamardal.

After the last, Ffrench added: "Obviously that has been a great night for the whole team. Il Grande Maurizio ran very well in the early part of last season and is another one who goes well fresh. I thought he would run a good race. Zain Shamardal ran very well at Jebel Ali on Friday and is a really nice recruit this season. He is only a three year old and does not have many miles on the clock. The trip really suited him and it was a great end to a brilliant night."

Tadhg O`Shea was in the saddle on the yard`s fourth winner, Alazeyab in the 1200m handicap. A winner at Jebel Ali on his previous start back in March, he was one of a host of runners in contention 200m out but was able to deny top-weight to post another victory.

O`Shea said: "He is a good horse and hopefully will improve from that run, though he is a chunky individual who carries a fair bit of condition. The gaps appeared when I needed them and he has taken me through them."

Al Raihe actually won the last four races on the card with Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combining to win the first two. Racing opened with a 1200m maiden and Mullen produced Kingdom Beauty to lead in the dying strides.

The jockey said: "We took our time with her last year and she has really strengthened up over the summer. The runner-up opened up a useful lead at the top of the straight but I was always hopeful of getting to him."

Skycruiser`s victory in the following 1400m handicap was a bit easier and Seemar said: "This horse deserved that as he always runs a solid race and it is nice to see him get his head in front. Richard has ridden him perfectly and that is a good start to both tonight and the season as we also had a winner at Jebel Ali on Friday. Kingdom Beauty is a nice filly and hopefully can build on that win."