Manark Sparkles In Meydan Curtain-Raiser

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (

The 20th running of the Group 1 PA Dubai Kahayla Classic empowered by IPIC was a one-horse show when Manark (FR) turned his early lead into an overwhelming victory.

Ridden by Dane O’Neill, the six-year-old Manark beat a very fast-finishing Valiant Boy (FR) by two and a quarter lengths, while Raaziq (FR) finished a further three-quarter lengths back in third.

As to the fancied Qatari runner Djainka Des Forges (FR), she finished fourth.

It was a very fitting victory, as Manark is owned by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was obviously delighted with the son of Mahabb.

“We started at Nad Al Sheba and now we are here and there is a huge crowd, which is wonderful,” said H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Trained by Erwan Charpy, Manark had never been tested over the 2000m trip on the new dirt track at Meydan, but he was never threatened and quickened easily in the final 400m.
His trainer said: “This horse is full of class. But he is not an easy horse to train.

“We work him with headgear and that has made all the difference. He has become more manageable, because before he was quite capable of running off.

“Already when he worked last time, Dane said that he was going the right way. Normally he is so buzzy, but he was cool in the pre-parade ring today and I was almost starting to worry, but then he came alive.

I looked at the race and thought there was no pace in it. We were drawn three on a lively track, so I told Dane not to worry if he made the running.”

O’Neill added: “It’s great to do it for the boss, Sheikh Hamdan, who is here. I just wanted him to relax wherever that happened to be. He wasn’t doing an awful lot in front.”

While Manark fulfilled his trainer’s expectations, his stable companion Versac PY, a winner at Meydan three weeks ago, was pulled up halfway through the race.

Charpy explained: “He is a very fast horse, but already the other day when he ran in Abu Dhabi the track was fast and he wasn’t ready to let himself down on the track. He is now an older horse and this track might have been a bit fast for him.”

The track certainly was fast, which Manark proved by breaking the track record after running the 2000m in 2:16:30. His trainer concluded: “He is still young, so he won’t run again this season and we will keep him for next year.”

Quotes for the US$1m Dubai Kahayla Classic empowered by IPIC

Dane O’Neill (jockey, Manark (FR), 1st) – “It’s nice to do it for the boss Sheikh Hamdan, who is here. I just wanted him to relax, wherever that happened to be. He wasn’t doing a lot in front and won quite well.”

Erwan Charpy (trainer, Manark (FR), 1st) – “He’s normally so buzzy. He’s was so cool in the pre-parade that I was starting to worry but then he came alive. We were drawn three on a lively track so I told Dane not to worry if he made the running. I couldn’t relax until the line because I’ve been close before and caught in the final strides.”

Joel Rosario (jockey, Valiant Boy (FR), 2nd) – “I got blocked at one stage and wanted to be closer to the pace but it didn’t happen. He’s run great and faced the kick back perfectly. It rode like a good race.”

Kieren Fallon (jockey, Raaziq (FR), 3rd) – “He’s run a great race. If I had asked him sooner, it might have been different, but it’s hard to tell.”

Richard Mullen (jockey, Djainka Des Forges (FR), 4th) – “Travelled lovely. Had a smashing run. Just when I wanted her to lengthen, she just started to scramble and she’ll be better next year.”

Adrie De Vries (jockey, Abu Alabyad (FR), 5th) – “He`s a mile and a half horse and a turf horse. I gave him a chance to go on today, last time I forced him a little too much. I gave him a chance. He handled the kickback, he made up a lot of ground. He just needs an extra two furlongs."

Royston Ffrench (jockey, Af Lafeh (AE), 6th) – “My horse ran OK but the winner was always going to win if he stayed, and he did.”

Pat Dobbs (jockey, Callateral (US), 7th) – “I was never on the bridle.”

Tadhg O’Shea (jockey, Richlore (US), 8th) – “She comes from behind. She was a long way back. She wasn’t good enough.”

Szczepan Mazur (jockey, Vulcain Du Clos (FR), 9th) – “They went very fast and I was always at the back.”

Cristian Demuro (jockey, Myra De Monlau (FR), 10th) – “She ran for the first time on the dirt and she didn’t like it too much. She ran OK.”

Harry Bentley (jockey, Taraf (QA), 11th) – “I was off the bridle 800m out and struggling. The surface might have been a concern but she’s had a long season.”

Richard Hughes (jockey, Maseh ASF (GB), 12th) – “Just not good enough.”

Wayne Smith (jockey, Bigg N Rich (US), 13th) – “I travelled up there nicely but from five furlongs out, my horse went a little bit wrong and he’s come back slightly lame.”

Paul Hanagan (jockey, Versac PY (FR), 14th) – “I was never happy going straight from the gate. Halfway down the back straight it was time to call it a day. He was never ever happy. He should have been travelling better. I took care of the horse.”