In presence of HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, Deauville racecourse saw Al Shaqab’s horses continuing their victorious run in Europe with two more titles won by Mekhtaal and Al Mourtajez yesterday.
Trainer Thomas Fourcy, jockey Julien Auge, Al Shaqab Racing manager Harry Herbert and others lead in Al Mourtajez after his victory in the Qatar Coupe d’Europe des Chevaux Arabes (Gr1 PA) at the Deauville Racecourse in France yesterday.
The races were sponsored by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC) as part of the partnership between QREC and Deauville racecourse.
Al Shaqab Racing’s Al Mourtajez picked up another Group success winning the Qatar Coupe d’Europe des Chevaux Arabes (Gr1 PA). Trained by Thomas Fourcy, Al Mourtajez travelled just behind his colour partner Laft Nethar. Jockey Julien Auge had his ride accelerate only in the final straight and the six-year-old son of Dahess kept surging ahead to win very easily.
“He is an exceptional horse, a true crack. We gave him time after his race in Doha. The defeat actually made him stronger. Now, he shall go to Goodwood (Qatar International) and then defend his title in Longchamp. After that, he could take his revenge in Doha next year,” Fourcy said of his charge.
Sir Bani Yas finished a good second in front of Prada T, third. The two other representatives of Al Shaqab Racing, AJS Rudainah and Laft Nethar, rounded up the top five.
Al Shaqab Racing general manager Khalifa bin Mohamed al-Attiyah receives the owner’s trophy after Mekhtaal won Prix Hocquart.
Another Al Shaqab Racing-owned colt, Mekhtaal, won the Prix Hocquart (Gr2) from pillar to post.
Ridden by Gregory Benoist in the lead, Mekhtaal seemed very relaxed during the whole race and in the final straight, the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained colt kept detaching himself from the lot to win his first Group race with ease.
Al Shaqab racing manager Harry Herbert said: “It was impressive. Jean-Claude Rouget always liked this colt. He is beautifully trained. He is a slow bird and Rouget gave him the time he needed. Today, he was lovely in front, he loved the ground and Gregory was impressed. The Jockey Club is the most obvious option but it is definitely not a no for Epsom. We will settle and see what happens in the day [the result of the Poule, ndlr]. We are very happy.”
Benoist said he was impressed by the horse. “Last time he did make a big mistake in the start. But I worked him in Pau last week and he worked well. I was expecting a good performance from him. We had to forget his last race. He is a very powerful colt.”
Mekthaal won his debut at Saint-Cloud in March before finishing second at Maisons-Laffitte, a month later.
VICTORIES IN FAVOUR OF QATAR’S EQUESTRIAN SPORT, SAYS KHALIFA AL-ATTIYAH
Al Shaqab Racing general manager Khalifa bin Mohamed al-Attiyah said that these international victories are working in favour of Qatar’s equestrian sport, and its promotion worldwide.
“Congratulations to Qatar on these victories at Deauville, through Al Mourtajez and Mekhtaal, and the one at Newbury less than 24 hours earlier through Mehmas,” al-Attiyah said.
Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club general manager Nasser Sherida al-Kaabi with the winners of the Qatar Coupe d’Europe des Chevaux Arabes (Gr1 PA) yesterday.
“Such victories would not have been possible without the support and commitment of HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani. His Excellency’s presence on two days in a row reflects his support and commitment as well as the invaluable role he fulfils in this respect.”
He added: “We had a great success with Al Mourtajez at Deauville, the way we had with Galileo Gold in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. In fact, such successes represent a great responsibility for us in future, but we are fully determined to continue such victories and excellence. We do wish all the best and success for the other Qatari horse owners as our ultimate goal is to enhance the standing of Qatar’s equestrian sport.”
Al-Attiyah added that apart from Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Al Shaqab is not considering sponsoring other racing events in Europe.
ROUGET WINS THIRD STRAIGHT POULE D’ESSAI DES POULICHES WITH LA CRESSONNIÈRE
Jean-Claude Rouget won the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches for the third year in a row, thanks to La Cressonnière. La Cressonnière was ridden by Italian jockey Cristian Demuro, in the colours of her breeder, Gérard Augustin-Normand, who owns the filly with Antonio Caro. The win was Demuro’s first in a French Group 1.
La Cressonnière travelled not far from the lead and took the advantage quite early, 300 metres from the post. The filly resisted all the attacks and finally finished a length in front of British Nathra. Al Shaqab Racing’s Qemah, also trained by Rouget, finished third.
“Qemah was tensed before the race when La Cressonnière was much calmer,” Rouget said after the race.
Jockey Gregory Benoist rides Mekhtaal to victory in Prix Hocquart (Gr2).
“Qemah will be better on a track with turn, she will be able to breathe. I can see her on a British race with rhythm. I won’t change my plans with her; we will run at Ascot. With a turn and a very well-paced race, she will be good and will come at the end. La Cressonnière can do everything, she never had a difficult race in her life. We brought her gently at the highest level. She will run the Prix de Diane and she won’t be far.”
THE GURKHA DAZZLES IN POULE D’ESSAI DES POULAINS WIN
The Gurkha stamped his superiority with a five-and-a-half-length victory in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
The colt, who defends the interest of Coolmore and is trained by Aidan O’Brien, had been supplemented for this race. The result meant that the investment of €39,600 that the connections paid last Thursday to enter the horse at the last minute, was rewarded well.
The Gurkha was one of the less experimented horses in the race. The colt cantered completely on the outside, just behind First Selection. He showed a true turn of foot at 400 metres from the post. Way behind him, First Selection resisted shortly to Dicton’s great return, who came along the rail and was not very happy at the end.
“We always thought he could come here for the Poule d’Essai and then go to the Prix du Jockey Club, the Epsom Derby or the St James’s Palace Stakes,” O’Brien said. “We also thought he could hold the 2,000m but we can’t know until we run this distance. We can also think he’ll be able to hold the 2,400m. We knew he was a very good colt. He is also very lucky to be alive: he was operated twice due to colics at 2yos. It is why we didn’t enter him in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains. Very few horses recover from health issues like this. So it is impressive that he succeeds like this.”
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