ABU DHABI // Eric Lemartinel can move one step closer to fulfilling his ambition of going better than his previous best of saddling more than 16 winners in a season in Sunday's meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. The Frenchman saddles the progressive Naseem Al Reef in the featured Group 2 Arabian Triple Crown Round 3 run over 12 furlongs and holds strong claims in the opener with three entries headed by Albar Lotois in the Baniyas, a handicap rated 0-65 over seven furlongs. "With the season coming to a close, my wish is to beat my previous best record in a season," said the Frenchman, who has 13 wins to his name. "Naseem Al Reef ran an excellent last race and a reproduction of that run can see him go close in the feature race."
The bay son of the 2002 Kahayla Classic winner Nez D'or will have most to fear from Jaci Wickham's classy filly Raeaa W'rsan. And Lemartinel admits: "Raeaa is the one to beat in this field of five runners. Naseem Al Reef is doing this distance for the first time but the way he won his last start suggests he will be better over the longer trip." "Albar Lotois has never runa bad race and holds a good chance in the opener with my other runners Dahes and Rafed. Dahes has taken some time but he has peaked and I expect a big run from him as well."
The Emirati trainer Bakhit al Ketbi and Wayne Smith, having struck a wonderful partnership, winning the honours in the first ever Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Flat Racing Festival, a 10-race series at Al Wathba Stud Farm to encourage private Emirati owners. The race series concludes tonight and al Ketbi and Smith can add another to their tallies with Ghytha, in the third race, a maiden for the local bred fillies and mares. Lemartinel's Ma Tahab II and Saifaldin Deeb's Shama are the likely dangers. firstname.lastname@example.org