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Top Jock Olivier Peslier Lands World`s Richest Purebred Arabian Race

Kalino wins under Olivier Peslier
Photo: Erika Rasmussen
(www.erikarphotography.com)

Abu Dhabi Launches Season with €1.2m International Race

Abu Dhabi’s first meeting of the new season on Sunday evening featured the inaugural running of the €1.2million Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, over 1600m and the most valuable Purebred Arabian contest in the world.

Befitting of its world ranking, it produced a thrilling finish with Olivier Peslier, consistently one of the best jockeys in the world over many years, driving the Alban de Mieulle-trained Kalino, from Qatar, to a narrow victory.

Sent for home at the top of the straight, having stalked early leader Manark, Peslier’s mount responded gamely to his jockey’s urgings, just holding off the late challenge of French rival, Sahabba.

“The horse was very brave,” said Peslier. “He was tiring at the end but found just enough and this is a great result for Qatar, Alban and the whole team.

“He is a very good trainer who knows which horses will be suited by which races.

“It has been a great occasion with a big crowd and the organisers and everyone concerned should be applauded.”

The main support races were the finals of both the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies’ (IFAHR) World Championship and HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice (IFAHR) World Championship.

Experience told in the 2200m apprentice contest with Ben Thompson, from Australia, who arrived with 65 winners to his name (joint second only to Ireland’s Conor Hoban among the 12 riders set to take part but Hoban’s mount was sadly withdrawn at the start) producing a great ride on AK Adour.

Trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi, for whom he was a first winner of the campaign, Thompson’s mount had won once in eight previous starts, over 1200m at Abu Dhabi in March.

Settled well off the pace, AK Adour made noticeable progress on the home turn before Thompson took dead aim at those in front of him, sneaking through a gap on the rail at the 200m pole.

His mount, though seeming to tire, galloped on resolutely for a memorable victory.

“The jockey did exactly as I told him and it was a perfect effort,” said Al Mehairbi.

Based in Victoria, Thompson, 17, is attached to the stable run by seasoned jockey Craig Williams’ father Alan and added: “The trainer warned me I would have to work quite hard and push the horse and it proved the case but I was prepared.

“It is great to even be here on such an occasion. To win is just fantastic.”

Astrid Wullschleger, a professional jockey from Switzerland, was victorious in the ladies race, over 1600m, producing the Eric Lemartinel-trained Najm Alemarat to pounce on stable companion Molahen El Alhan, who was denied second close home, inside the final 200m.

It was a great result for trainer Eric Lemartinel who saddled the first, third and fourth.

“The plan was to try and lead,” said Wullschleger. “However, they went very fast early on so I was happy to be patient and it worked out perfectly.

“It has been a great week and wonderful evening.”

A Dubai World Cup winner and former UAE Champion Jockey, Fernando Jara made the perfect return to local action, landing the opening 1200m maiden on AF AL Sally for his new boss, Musabah Al Muhairi.

“It is nice to be back, especially with a winner straightaway,” said Jara. “I am really looking forward to the season ahead.”

Helal Al Alawi does well with the ammunition at his disposal and combined with apprentice George Buckell to land the following 1200m handicap with AL Shabab.

It was a second career win for the horse who won a 1400m course maiden 51 weeks ago.

“This horse is tough and game,” said Buckell. “I was always pretty happy just off the speed and he picked up nicely when I asked him.”

The only Thoroughbred contest, a 2200m handicap, produced a victory for Blue Tiger’s Eye, a first winner of the season for trainer Ahmed bin Harmash and ridden by new stable jockey, Freddie Tylicki, riding his first UAE winner.

Now a seven-year-old, Blue Tiger’s Eye was registering a fourth career success, third in the UAE and first on turf. He appeared to make a mess of the start but Tylicki did not panic, biding his time in the middle of the field before asking for a challenge in the straight.

He found a willing partner and they won going away from Mutual Force, like the winner owned by Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.

“He did that well,” said Tylicki. “Obviously it is great to open my account for the season, especially riding for my boss and retained yard.”