Royston Ffrench's double delight in Jebel Ali

Jockey ecstatic to start UAE horse racing season on a high note after wins aboard Hajoum and Myownway.

Straight Talk in action at the Jebel Ali Racourse. Mike Young / The national
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DUBAI // Hajoum landed the featured 1,000m Shadwell Handicap at Jebel Ali this afternoon as the new racing season began in great style for the defending campion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and his stable jockey Royston Ffrench.

A horse always held in the highest regard by both, the five-year-old stallion sports the colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed and was registering a second local victory and a seventh career success in total.

Winning over the minimum distance for the first time, he was given a positive ride by Ffrench, who had him to the fore throughout before committing for home with about 300m left.

That move proved decisive and they always looked likely to hold on, to the delight of the jockey, who said: "That was a nice performance in a good race and he is a horse who has always shown us loads at home. We wanted to try him here over this trip and it worked well.

"It is always nice to win the feature race and especially satisfying at the start of the season as it is always nice to get that first winner on the board."

Al Raihe and Ffrench soon doubled their first-day tally with the success of Myownway in a 1,200m handicap which, despite having only seven runners, was undoubtedly the roughest race on the card after Pastel Blue managed to seriously impede three of his six rivals.

Ffrench said: "Luckily, I was out of the way of the trouble and we have just run in a straight line all the way to the wire."

Musabah Al Muhairi and the stable jockey Wayne Smith combined for a first-and-last-race double, with Mashaaref landing the first race of the season, a 1,600m handicap, and Straight Talk blitzing 13 rivals in the concluding 1,400m handicap. Smith said: "We had a very slow start last season so this is a great way to kick off the new campaign.

"Mashaaref won well enough but you have to like the way Straight Talk won his race as he is lightly raced and it would be lovely to think there is more to come."

That very same comment was echoed by Richard Mullen after the battling victory of Glenleven in the 1,000m maiden on only his second career start.

He had to work hard to hold off the sustained challenge of the much more experienced Grand Duchy and a delighted Mullen explained: "I really thought he would win at Meydan last year and was at a total loss as to what happened so this is a big relief. I would like to think he has a lot more to offer."

The pair then completed their own double with Al Razi who won a 1,200m handicap on the opening day for the second year running.

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