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Purebred Arabian Al Mamun Monlau Faces Tough Task in Kahayla Title Defence

2013 Winner Bids to Become Third to Land Consecutive Wins

Al Mamun Monlau (FR) will attempt to become only the third horse in the history of the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic to win the race back to back when he faces the starter on Saturday afternoon.

Alanudd won the Purebred Arabian race sponsored by EMAAR three consecutive times between 1997 and 1999, while Madjani also won it in 2005, 2006 and 2007, but since then none of the last five winners have managed to get back onto the podium.

And connections of the 2014 winner fear that the 2014 renewal will also fail to produce a consecutive winner.

The Jean-François Bernard trained Al Mamun Monlau was a very impressive winner of last year’s edition of the opening race on Dubai World Cup night.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, who this year will be on board the fancied Mushrae, Al Mamun Monlau had to overcome the outside draw of 16 to score.

Elisabeth Garel, the trainer’s wife and assistant trainer, said: “It was amazing what he did that day. He had to come out of stall 16, which is not great if not to say catastrophic.

“And so he sat at the back of the field for most of the time. Then he had to slalom in and out to obtain a better position, but when they turned into the final straight he fought like a lion.

“Naturally he had the help of Soumillon, but he picked up the other horses one by one and I actually believe that he enjoyed doing that. It was an amazing finish and I think it actually excited him to beat all these horses. He really outdid himself that day.”

After Jean-Pierre Totain’s success in 2001 with Magic De Piboule, Jean-François Bernard became only the second French trainer to lift the 2000 meter race, worth US$ 250,000.

Elisabeth Garel’s eyes still gleam when thinking about the event and she admits: “There are two reasons why this victory is so special to us. Firstly, winning this race on the Arabian Peninsula for Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, was special.

“Sheikh Joaan is young and charming and is becoming more and more of a horseman. We had advised him to buy this horse about a year and a half before and so for him to win this important and prestigious race was just great.”

Secondly, we have lived in the UAE and the Arabian countries have a special place in our hearts. So to come here all the way from France, with a horse bred and trained in France and to win this race was unforgettable. We love coming here, as horses are stabled in six star boxes, just like us in six star hotels.”

Al Mamun Monlau (FR) returned to Dubai for his title defence a month and a half ago, but disappointed in his prep race, the Group 1 PA Al Maktoum Challenge R3 sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo, when he unseated his new rider Frankie Dettori before the start and in the end never got into the race, finishing tenth.

“We have never hidden the fact that Al Mamun Monlau is very difficult,” said Garel. “He has a lot of character and he is a Purebred Arabian. He was ridden the other day by Frankie Dettori who is Sheikh Joaan’s jockey and one of the best jockeys in the world.

“However, Al Mamun Monlau that day was very fresh and pulling hard, so it was difficult for Frankie who has not ridden that many Purebred Arabians to deal with him. But what I love about Frankie is that he is extremely positive and geared up for it.

“He has told me not to worry, that Al Mamun Monlau was too fresh the other day and that things will be different on Saturday. Unfortunately, the draw once again went against us, as we are coming out of stall 14.”

She hesitates and then adds: “But then, it didn’t matter last year, so hopefully it won’t matter this time round either. But the race is very competitive and statistics are not necessarily in our favour.”