Double National Day Cup spoils for Ffrench

It was National Cup Day at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening with the first big races of the new season for both Purebred Arabians and Thoroughbreds and jockey Royston Ffrench scored a memorable big race double.

The Group One Purebred Arabian National Day Cup was the official feature over 1600m and Ffrench landed the spoils on the Saifaldin Deeb-trained Sahib Du Clos who was producing by far the best performance of his career.

Ffrench said: "The whole Deeb team were very confident before the race and told me last week this fellow had a big chance tonight and they were certainly proved right.

"On ratings he had a lot to find but they installed a lot of confidence in me and the horse has really produced the goods on the night. It has been a great evening in what has been an amazing start to the season."

Ffrench also won the race last year on Dynamite who was, sadly, withdrawn at the start this year.

The Thoroughbred equivalent carries Listed status and Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe saddled his 13th winner of the campaign when stable jockey Ffrench initiated his big race double by steering Il Grande Maurizio to victory.

The pair were following up their Meydan victory of just over a fortnight ago and the jockey`s decision to commit for home 400m out arguably proved decisive with the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Jaasoos, seeking an unprecedented treble in the race, finishing fast from his wide draw.

Ffrench explained: "We had the ideal draw in five for a horse such as Il Grande Maurizio who likes to be near the pace. They have gone a good gallop and towed me into the race travelling nicely. I was happy to commit at the top of the straight and, though he was tiring, I always thought we would hold on.

"We at Grandstand Stables have made the most amazing start to the season and it is great to win a race like this to continue the yard`s run. It is a real team effort and we would not be here without a lot of hard work from a lot of people."

Jockey Gaetan Faucon opened his UAE account when partnering Kalid`Or, who was winning for the first time, to win the 2200m handicap and provide trainer Sahbi Rajhi with his first local winner on a memorable night for all concerned.

The easiest winner of the night was saved to last with Tadhg O`Shea able to ease right down on the Doug Watson-trained Quite A Show in the concluding 1400m handicap to post a facile victory.

That was the jockey`s 13th of the new campaign.

Jabber Bittar has his team in good form and followed up a winner apiece at Meydan and Sharjah with the comfortable victory of Sama Al Reef in the 1600m maiden under Jesus Rosales, while jockey Pat Cosgrave has also made a good start to the season and landed the opening 1400m conditions race on the Bakit Al Ketbi-trained Okba.