Treble form for Al Raihe

The Meydan Group were the generous sponsors of Thursday evening`s second meeting of the season at the UAE`s flagship course. All six races were on the well-received All-Weather track and it was a great night for Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

His Rochdale was the comfortable winner of the 2000m Meydan City Corporation, following up his victory over 1900m a fortnight ago. Ridden by stable jockey Royston Ffrench Rochdale quickened nicely through a small gap 100m out to put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

Ffrench said: "That was a really nice performance in what seemed a good race. He really likes this new surface and can hopefully continue on the upgrade."

The duo then combined with Emirates Sports to win the 1400m Meydan Freezone in style. Off the track for 474 days and making his debut for the yard, the four-year-old showed a pleasing turn of foot and attitude to win to the delight of Ffrench who said: "He had been working well and hopefully there is more to come."

The trainer then completed a treble when Derbaas won The Meydan Hotel, a 1600m conditions race, under Ahmad Ajtebi. Ironically, it was Ffrench on stable companion Il Grande Maurizio whom he denied in a driving finish. Remarkably, Al Raihe`s third runner, Aamaaq, was third.

Ajtebi said: "It is my first night back and obviously I am delighted to get a winner. Ali`s horses are running very well and that is an amazing achievement to saddle 1-2-3 in such a race."

The opening 1600m handicap, the Meydan Godolphin Parks, was the only Purebred Arabian contest but it produced a thrilling finish with Willie Supple driving Af Amthaal to lead right on the line to deny Jazeerat Alsadyaat.

Rafed was a close third behind the Bakit Al Ketbi-trained winner and Supple said: "We were one of the first off the bit and only fifth (of seven) heading for home. He has responded well and luckily the gap appeared and he was brave."

It was a second win this season for the pair who also won a similar race over 1400m a fortnight ago.

Kieren Fallon was in the saddle on that runner-up and then suffered the same disappointment in the following 1600m maiden, the Meydan IMAX. On this occasion his mount West Emirates was nailed on the line by the Wayne Smith-ridden Zafeen Speed.

Trained by Smith`s main employer Musabah Al Muhairi, he was having only his second career start and showed an excellent attitude to lead on the line. Smith said: "He ran well first time and we had to be hopeful he would go close. He is a nice horse and we have a couple more at home."

Fallon`s fortunes finally improved in the concluding 1200m handicap when Alo Pura scored for trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam. Fallon was relieved: "It had been a night of near things so it is nice to get a winner."