Jean de Roualle declared Somoud an “absolute champion” after his resounding win in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep for Purebred Arabians at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Richard Mullen led the six-year-old son of Munjiz with a strong run from the middle of the pack as they approached the final bend before staying on strongly on the home stretch to hold off Ernst Oertel’s AF Al Bairaq under Tadhg O’Shea by two and-a-quarter lengths.
Harrab, with Connor Beasley in the saddle, was a further two and-a-quarter lengths in third and RB Frynchh Dude, who set the early pace, finished more than five lengths behind him in fourth.
“He is an absolute champion and a dream horse to train,” De Roualle said of Somoud.
“Obviously the Jewel Crown on December 4 is his target. I wish he stays healthy from now on because tomorrow is another day.”
Somoud rounded off last season with a hat-trick, including the Group 1 Emirates Championship over track and trip, when trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi.
“He has progressed from last season and is an easy horse to train,” De Roualle added.
“He arrived at our stables in March and has continued to develop as he did last season under Ahmed [Al Mehairbi]. A lot of credit should go to Ahmed for the horse’s remarkable progress.
“This was only a prep race but he’s run well and won well. So I would like to think he’s the best of the local challenge going into the Jewel Crown in four weeks.”
Mullen completed a double on the night by taking the concluding handicap for thoroughbreds on Satish Seemar’s Irish Freedom in a three-way photo finish, edging out Bernardo Pinheiro on Sugar Boy and O’Shea atop Welford.
Jaci Wickham enjoyed an early-season success with Al Ajeeb W’Rsan. It was a different tale this time as she had to wait more than two years for her first winner towards the end of the last season in March.
It was also the first success in the UAE for apprentice Hugo Lebouc. He closed on the early leaders at final 200m mark and went clear to win by four and-a-quarter lengths from ES Jalmud with another Wickham runner Bethweh A’Thanieh W’Rsan in third.
“I think he ran very well but to be honest the more I looked at the other horses in the race, I was like 'this race is very hot’ for a UAE Maiden,” Wickham, the longest serving female trainer in the Emirates, said.