‘It was the first race for him today and I had thought that he wasn’t ready for this, but well he proved me wrong’
“Getting into the gates was the main thing,” Stephan Ladjadj said about his ride Courtofversailles. The five-year-old horse had taken his time before he lined up for the Barzan Cup (Gr3) at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club yesterday.
Out of Gate 8, and a mile later, the favourite, trained by Rashid Mohamed al-Jehani, went past the post two lengths ahead of the rest of the field for a hat-trick of wins going back to April this year even as Ladjadj himself grabbed four wins on the day.
The win saw Ladjadj’s ride finish ahead of Ibrahim al-Malki’s wards Topsy Turvy and Pazeer.
“It’s been a long time since this has happened to me. It’s a nice feeling. I was quite keen today when I came to racing. I knew I had some good rides today, but you know you are under pressure some times. You have to concentrate a lot, especially in the last race. The pressure was at its peak and we did a good job of it,” Ladjadj added.
In the penultimate race of the day, Zuhair Mohsen-trained Asaaf showed he has improved a lot since last season beating some seasoned rivals, including favourites Sraab and Footprintinthesand, both trained by Ahmed Kobeissi, in the Ras Laffan Cup for local Thoroughbreds.
The Qatar Derby winner, ridden yesterday by Marvin Suerland, just about managed to edge forward at the post to win by a neck as Saleem Golam-ridden Sraab beat stablemate Footprintinthesand, helmed by Alberto Sanna.
“It was the first race for him today and I had thought that he wasn’t ready for this, but well he proved me wrong. He beat some quality horses in the race,” trainer Mohsen said after the race.
“Keep in mind he was three years old last year. With age he is growing stronger and I expect much better things from him in the coming races.”
Ladjadj’s three other winners were with Umm Qarn and trainer Alban de Mieulle.
The famous maroon colours topped two of the four Umm Salal Oaks Trials races, with Samaa leading a one-two in the Trials for four-year-old Purebred Arabian fillies, and Walaa winning the Trials for three-year-old local Thoroughbred fillies.
Samaa showed fantastic pace in the final two furlongs to finish an impressive six lengths ahead of stablemate Humam, ridden by Jean Baptiste Hamel, in the 1850m race.
“She proved she was one of the best three year olds in France. She came here last season but not like we expected her to. She has come back and won today, which is nice to see, but let’s see how the next few races go,” De Mieulle said.
Earlier, Walaa did well to stay ahead of a fast-closing Damsah, saddled by al-Malki, for her first career victory.
Walaa, also ridden by Ladjadj, had stayed in the front of the pack throughout the race, but Damsah went past the entire field in the final two furlongs but perhaps Golam left it for too late as the run was good enough only for a second, ahead of Abha, ridden by Tomas Lukasek.
Umm Qarn’s Al Kabeer had shown quality when he had finished third on his Qatar debut three weeks ago. Yesterday, the Alban de Mieulle-trained colt shed his maiden status under Ladjadj in the opening race of the card, topping the Purebred Arabian Maiden Plate event for three-year-olds.
“Being part of the Umm Qarn team is a big step for me,” Ladjadj said.
“I have waited for long for such an opportunity. It’s a dream assignment. It’s been 10 years since I first started riding in Qatar and now it’s all coming together.”
After having stayed away from the winner’s enclosure for long in Qatar, Scudding finally walked in yesterday, with Pier Convertino astride, as an ecstatic Mohamed Jassim Ghazali celebrated a one-two with Champion Jockey Harry Bentley guiding Al Muraqabah to a close second in the Oaks Trials for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies.
Ghazali almost had another winner in Zahwa on the day in the next race but for Pierre Deymonaz-trained Sharesa.
In the Oaks Trials for four-year-old local Purebred Arabian fillies, Sharesa, ridden by Carlo Fiocchi in the colours of Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani, jostled with Zahwa, helmed by Pier Convertino, in the final furlong after Umm Qarn’s Afra had weakened having stayed ahead for the bulk of the 1850m race.
Sharesa, having impressively stepped up from seven furlongs on her debut, edged out Zahwa by a nose, while Julian Smart’s Majnona went past Afra to complete the top three. Three weeks ago, Mohamed Hussain-trained Bronze Maquette had finished outside the top two for the first time since April 2016. The five-year-old got back to her winning ways yesterday with Eduardo Pedroza riding the Al Thumama Racing owned mare to victory in the Class 2 Thoroughbreds event for fillies and mares.
Mohamed Jassim Ghazali’s Botanica, ridden by Harry Bentley, and Rasheeda, helmed by Darren Williams for Majed Seifeddine, completed the top three.
Race 1: 1. Al Kabeer (Stephan Ladjadj), 2. Konouz (Marvin Suerland), 3. AJS Dhabi (Alberto Sanna), 4. Ghazi Al Jeryan (Saleem Golam). Won by: 2 ¾, ½, ¾. Time: 1:49.94. Owner: Umm Qarn. Trainer: Alban de Mieulle.
Race 2: 1. Bronze Maquette (Eduardo Pedroza), 2. Stars N Angels (Pier Convertino), 3. Botanica (Harry Bentley), 4. Rasheeda (Darren Williams). Won by: 1 ¼, Nk, 2 ¼. Time: 1:25.61. Owner: Al Thumama Racing. Trainer: Mohamed Hussain.
Race 3: 1. Walaa (Stephan Ladjadj), 2. Damsah (Saleem Golam), 3. Abha (Tomas Lukasek), 4. Khoud (Darren Williams). Won by: 1 ¾, ¼, 34. Time: 1:41.39. Owner: Umm Qarn. Trainer: Alban de Mieulle.
Race 4: 1. Scudding (Pier Convertino), 2. Al Muraqabah (Harry Bentley), 3. Flower Festival (Marc Lerner), 4. Dariga (Eduardo Pedroza). Won by: Nk, 4, 1 ¼. Time: 1:57.28. Owner: Sheail bin Khalifa al-Kuwari. Trainer: Mohamed Jassim Ghazali.
Race 5: 1. Sharesa (Carlo Fiocchi), 2. Zahwa (Pier Convertino), 3. Majnona (Alberto Sanna), 4. Afra (Stephan Ladjadj). Won by: No, ¾, Shd. Time: 2:11.26. Owner: Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani. Trainer: Pierre Deymonaz.
Race 6: 1. Samaa (Stephan Ladjadj), 2. Humam (Jean Baptiste Hamel), 3. Djumana KB (Tomas Lukasek), 4. Deebaj (Alberto Sanna). Won by: 6, 3 ¼, 2 ¾. Time: 2:07.96. Owner: Umm Qarn. Trainer: Alban de Mieulle.
Race 7: 1. Asaaf (Marvin Suerland), 2. Sraab (Saleem Golam), 3. Footprintinthesand (Alberto Sanna), 4. Salman Bu Thaila (Carlo Fiocchi). Won by: Nk, 1, ½. Time: 2:10.70. Owner: Ali Khalfan Mohamed al-Suwaidi. Trainer: Zuhair Mohsen.
Race 8: 1. Courtofversailles (Stephan Ladjadj), 2. Topsy Turvy (Saleem Golam), 3. Pazeer (Eduardo Pedroza), 4. Vedevani (Pier Convertino). Won by: 2, ¾, Nk. Time: 1:37.10. Owner: Khalid Rashid al-Mohannadi. Trainer: Rashid Mohamed al-Jehani.
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