Abu Dhabi: The UAE capital’s racing season kicked off with Eric Lemartinel-trained Darius Du Paon, ridden by Olivier Doleuze, winning the feature event — Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Prep Race for the Purebred Arabians at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Saturday.

Doleuze, making his debut in UAE, stayed behind third placed AF Al Sajanjle for most part of the race before surging ahead to brush aside a late challenge from second-placed Goshawke. A win by a good 1.25 lengths spoke volumes of Doleuze’s expertise.

“I’m extremely happy with the win because I don’t have any stables. Eric asked me to ride his horse. I don’t know much about the horse but when I went to the start he was relaxed and fine. During the race, he was able to follow the lad in the lead and good enough to win,” said a jubilant Doleuze, who has been based in Hong Kong for the past 15 years.

“It is good for me to come and try different things. It isn’t a benefit to sit for a long time in the same place for a long time. So it was good to come meet other people and to win is really good,” said the French jockey.

Lemartinel thus completed a double for HH The President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the evening. He had earlier won the opening race of the Abu Dhabi racing season, 1,400m maiden race for 3-year-old Purebred Arabians, after Patrick Cosgrave took Ellal to a convincing win.

Ellal, a grey colt, crossed the finishing line 6.25 lengths ahead of second placed AF Al Aassi and further 4.5 lengths behind was AF Al Moreeb.

“It was the first time I sat on him and Eric gave me the confidence and said to me he is a nice horse,” said Cosgrave adding, “It was the first time for him and so may be a bit green. He’s a big horse and he needs space. He travelled well and it was a nice education run for him as well. He looks a smart horse and looks good for a title at the Triple Crown.”

Also impressing on the opening day was trainer Ernst Oertel and jockey Tadhg O’Shea, as they pair scored a double for owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda. O’Shea led Al Waqas to victory in 1,400m Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club Cup for Private Owners before going on to clinch the Al Rawdah 2200m race on AF Yatroq. O’Shea later completed his treble on Parliamentarian ridding for trainer Satish Seemer after he dead-heated with Ben Curtis-ridden Jamesian in the 2200m Corniche Handicap.