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Forjatt Claims Abu Dhabi`s National Day Prep for Selvaratnam Team

Forjatt stakes his claim to National Day Cup glory
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Class prevailed at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening with Forjatt giving weight and a beating to his 13 rivals in the 1600m National Day Prep, the only Thoroughbred contest on the card. Winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile in 2014 and subsequently disqualified after finishing first past the post in the same race last season, he was having his first run since contesting the Godolphin Mile at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night in March.

Ridden for the first time by Chris Hayes, new stable jockey to Forjatt’s trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, the winner sports the famous yellow silks of the handler’s main patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Settled off the pace by Hayes, he made smooth progress turning for home before hitting the front halfway up the straight and running on too strongly for Busker who tried to bridge the gap but to no avail. “He is a nice horse with a touch of quality,” said Hayes.

"We broke well so I was able to get a good position and he carried me into the race strongly. “To be honest I was probably in front sooner than I planned but he has run all the way to the line. He will have needed the run so to give weight away and win was a very good effort.” The best of the Purebred Arabian action, the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Prep, also over 1600m, produced an impressive performance from Areem.

Quickly sent to the front by Wayne Smith, he bounded clear just after halfway and never looked likely to be caught, providing trainer Nacer Samiri with his first winner in the process. Four times a Group 1 winner locally, including the 2013 National Day Cup over this course and distance, it was also a first victory for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mansour Al Nahyan, with his very first runner. As with Hayes on Forjatt in the Thoroughbred race, this was Smith’s first ride on Areem.

“He’s a very smart horse, and a straightforward one,” said Smith. “We all know he likes to lead, dictate a good pace and try to put the race to bed before the others can get competitive. “I wouldn’t know what the plans for the horse are but I would like to think the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup would be his next target. “I’m just grateful for this opportunity and thank the whole team for preparing a really good spare ride for me.”

The finale, a 2200m handicap, saw Samiri record a double with the victory of Bibisheena, a first winner of the season for jockey Szczepan Mazur. Trained by Elise Jeanne, MH Kanz looked an unlikely winner turning for home in the 1400m conditions race but produced a telling finish under Jose Santiago.

A second course and distance victory for the horse who made a winning debut on this card last year, it was a first winner of the season for both jockey and trainer. The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and Hamza looked poised to make a comfortable winning start to his local career when scampering clear on the home turn. However, as the post loomed he started to almost pull himself up but the line appeared in time to post a first career victory.

Tadhg O’Shea was in the saddle for trainer Eric Lemartinel who prepared the winner for his main patron, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “I was keen to get a tow into the race for as long as possible,” said O’Shea.

“However, the two in front of me basically stopped on the turn and I was left in front. “As a result I was there at least a furlong too soon and he was getting lonely close home. “He held on though and will be better in a stronger race.” Lemartinel’s charge was having his fourth career start having been placed twice in maidens in France before a respectable fifth trying Group 1 company on his final European outing.

Having opened his seasonal account at Sharjah on Saturday, trainer Jaber Bittar doubled his tally in the following 1600m maiden with Jamila Al Reef, winning for the first time at the 14th attempt and providing jockey Jesus Rosales with his first success of the new campaign.

In doing so, they denied O’Shea a quick double after he tried to make all on Dah’Ham W’Rsam with the two main protagonists having the race between themselves throughout the whole straight. “The horses are running well,” said Rosales. “She travelled strongly and I was always happy.”