AF Lafeh turns away Bigg N Rich

he only Purebred Arabian race on the card at Meydan on Thursday night, the 1,600-metre Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, opened proceedings with AF Lafeh taking the lead halfway up the straight for trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and his stable jockey, Royston Ffrench.
Jockey Royston Ffrench guides AF Lafeh from the outside to win the Mazrat Al Ruwayah, a Group 2 race purebred Arabians, at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Thursday night.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Jockey Royston Ffrench guides AF Lafeh from the outside to win the Mazrat Al Ruwayah, a Group 2 race purebred Arabians, at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Thursday night. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // The only Purebred Arabian race on the card at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night, the 1,600-metre Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, opened proceedings with AF Lafeh taking the lead halfway up the straight for trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and his stable jockey, Royston Ffrench.

In doing so they denied Bigg N Rich, who looked the likely winner when leading 600m out but could not hold off the challenge of Ffrench’s mount.

“I am really pleased for the horse and everyone involved with him,” Ffrench said. “It is a while since he won but he is tough and consistent. He deserved that this evening and is a lovely horse to have in the yard as he is also versatile with regards to trip and underfoot conditions.”

Trainer Doug Watson has made a flying start to the season and enjoyed a double, highlighted by a one-two in the 2,000m Listed Entisar Stakes with Cooptado and jockey Adrie De Vries making all to deny stable companion Storm Belt and stable jockey Pat Dobbs.

The winner looked in trouble early in the straight when challenged by Farrier but fought tenaciously to deny him before Storm Belt ran on to snatch second close to home.

Cooptado, who was making his seasonal return after he finished fifth in his only previous local outing in the UAE Derby, had to dig deep in the straight, initially to see off the challenge of Farrier and then that of his stable companion.

“We were very hopeful one of them could win and to get first and second is more than we dared hope,” Watson said.

“They are both nice horses and you have to remember Storm Belt was giving weight to Cooptado.”

Dobbs gained some compensation with victory on Watson’s Faulkner in the concluding 1,200m handicap.

Rafeej won a 1,200m conditions race on this card last season and won the equivalent race, now upgraded to Listed status and named The Garhoud Sprint.

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan, he is trained by Musabah Al Muhairi whose stable jockey, Silvestre De Sousa was in the saddle.

The winner was running for the first time since November and clearly relished the new dirt surface.

He had looked a progressive sprinter last season and there may be more improvement to come.

“That was a very pleasing return to action and a good performance after a long break,” De Sousa said.

“He has been pleasing us at home so we were pretty hopeful. He trains well on the dirt so were not worried about that. Hopefully he can build on this.”

Richard Mullen, riding for his main employer, Satish Seemar, drove Surfer to victory in the 1600m Listed Dubai Creek Mile, having won the equivalent conditions race last season.

The pair only hit the front close to home but class prevailed in the end and Surfer looked to still have a bit in hand as he crossed the line.

“He has a touch of class as he has shown after the last few seasons and has always run well fresh,” Mullen said. “This 1,600m is short enough for him and we will have to aim him at the big Carnival races as we have in the last two seasons.”

It was Surfer’s first run since the Dubai World Cup in March.

Cry Joy, trained by Ahmad bin Harmash, landed the 2000m maiden, making his local debut a winning one and opening his account at the fourth attempt with Ahmed Ajtebi in the saddle.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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