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Dubai World Cup 2022: French shocker in opening Dubai Kahayla Classic

Favourites disappoint as First Class delivers a huge effort to win the race for Qatar



By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 5:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 6:49 PM

The 2022 Dubai World Cup meeting kicked-off with a shock result when First Class won the $1 (Dh3.67) million Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1) sponsored by Ithra Dubai over 2000 metres on the dirt at the Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.

Ridden by Ronan Thomas for Qatar-based handler Alban de Mieulle’s First Class prevailed by a head after a rousing stretch battle with Keerless Del Roc saddled by Pat Cosgrave.

Race favourite Hadi De Carrere was nine and a half lengths back in third while strongly fancied Rb Rich Lyke Me could only finish 13th after missing the break in the 2,000 metre contest and was never in contention.

A five-year-old gelding by Dahess, First Class contested the undercard at Saudi Arabia’s big race meeting in February but turned up at Meydan in the best possible condition to deliver a big result for the Qataris.

First Class looked to have won the race all for himself, but Kerless Del Roc, trained locally by Ahmed Al Mehairbi, was in hot pursuit.

With Pat Cosgrave in the irons, Keerless Del Roc challenged strongly, and the leading duo pulled well clear of the rest of the field.

They raced head-to-head until virtually the final furlongs when First Class appeared to produce something extra only to see Kerless Del Roc come with a second wind.

But the winning post came in time and Thomas could celebrate a dream victory at Meydan

Winning jockey Ronan Thomas said: "We went very quickly and when we came round the bend, I was very confident because last time at Sakhir I won quite easily. He came from America so he's tough on the dirt and he's just improving. I travelled very easily and when I asked him for a turn of foot, he gave me everything in the post.

"I was very confident of getting there because he won so easily last time out in Saudi Arabia. I beat some good horses and I beat them without using the whip and it was very easy.

“Today was another sport though because we were on the dirt and against a tougher field, but we won by a neck, and it was a great result.”

De Mieulle, who oversees the racing interests of Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al Thani, said "I have been placed before in this race and the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic so to get a win on one of the biggest nights in global racing is amazing.

“He's a different horse now and we've spent the last five or six months trying to make him better and he's really come along nicely.

“This means so much and I am so pleased that Qatar has been able to win a race at the Dubai World Cup meeting.”

Hadi De Carrere produced a fine effort to land the Arabian Classic Cup at Riyadh in February, while Rb Rich Lyke Me was third and Deryan was fourth.

Ahmed Al Mheirbi, trainer of runner-up Kerless De Roc, issued a positive statement, despite being narrowly denied victory in one of the world’s greatest Arabian races.

“It was close, but it was good. You know (finishing) second is a good result. We will come back next year and try to win it,” he said.

Hadi De Carrere may have been a disappointment in the race, but his French handler Thomas Fourcy said: “He ran well, but it’s difficult to come from so far back. He kept running all the way to the finish so I’m still happy.”

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Multiple French champion Olivier Peslier added: “Going past the winning post on the first circuit we got shuffled back and from that point it was difficult to make up the ground. He ran on well up the straight.”

Brraq, one of the consistent performers in the UAE this season, also did not run up to expectations and jockey Pat Dobbs said: “He never really travelled for me but kept on getting fourth. I’d say he needs blinkers.”

American import RB Rich Lyke Me was widely expected to run a big race for Bahraini trainer and owner Faqzi Nass and blew his chances when he missed the break.

Dutch rider Adrie De Vries, who has always believed that Rb Rich Lyke Me was heading towards winning a big race, was devastated. He said: “After the start he shied away from the horse outside him, and I thought we were going to go through the fence. We were knocked out of the race, we ended up so far back. It was very out of character for him.”

sports@khaleejtimes.com


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