His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani and trainer Julian Smart celebrated a fourth straight HH The Amir Sword (Group 1 PA) victory with Ebraz winning the million-dollar Purebred Arabian feature in scintillating fashion, even as Olivier Peslier and French King ensured His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani lifted HH The Amir Trophy (Group 1) after a gap of six years.
In the Al Hazm-sponsored finale, Smart’s other ward, Aaley Al Magam lit up the course in the 2400m Arabian feature early on, with Umm Qarn’s Yazeed following not too far behind under Peslier. As Alban de Mieulle’s charge took the advantage on the way home, Smart’s two-time winner Gazwan couldn’t keep up, and it was left to Maxime Guyon-ridden Ebraz to chase the leader down. And chase he did as the six-year-old went past Yazeed for his second victory in the race.
“It’s a great weekend of racing, but for me, personally, pressure is immense. But it is also pressure I give myself, you know. Everybody expects the horses to perform, and luckily they do more often than not,” Smart said after the victory, which is his seventh in Qatar’s flagship Arabian race.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani presents the
trophy to His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani after French
King won HH The Amir Trophy (Group 1).
“It is lovely to have the quality of horses that I am getting from Shahaniya. Ebraz has won it twice, Gazwan has won it twice. Today, Ebraz was left to run his own race, while everyone else was fighting up front. Maxime never even hit him once today, just hand-ride.
“This is what the Amir’s Sword is, an absolute test of stamina. The Arc, the English Derby, they are all 2400m. We don’t have enough racing over 2400m for Arabians. This is the best race for Arabians in the world. Some say at 2000m you will get more, but in my opinion you won’t get more quality. You had nine horses, but it was a good field with four-five horses rated over 120.”
De Mieulle perhaps hoped for Peslier to work his magic in the Arabian feature, just as the French jockey did with a tactical race in the million-dollar Thoroughbred feature with French King. “But Yazeed can’t do the distance, 2400m is too long for him,” De Mieulle said after the race.
“The leader in front of Yazeed suddenly stopped and Olivier decided to go ahead. Maybe those 200m made the difference, but anyway a race is a race.”
He added: “Classic races around the world are 2000m, and I think they need to rethink about the distance in the future to give more chance to more owners, who have good horses but most of them for a mile, nine furlongs, etc.”
Peslier’s tactical run in HH The Amir Trophy (Group 1), presented by Longines, won him applause from all quarters.
He mixed up the pace during the race well after taking the lead on Henri-Alex Pantall-trained French King. And with no challenge from the rest of the field, he managed to create enough gap once on the home straight, and cruised to victory, leading two more foreign runners – Jerome Reynier’s Royal Julius and Aidan O’Brien’s Hunting Horn – to the paddock.
“The jockey is the best,” Pantall said after the win.
He added through a translator, “Very happy for this big big race win for Sheikh Abdullah in this very important race. Umm Qarn’s horses came to the stables through Alban de Mieulle, with whom I have a long relationship.”