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Nieshan dominates Challenge

Abu Dhabi-based horse early favourite for Kahayla Classic at Dubai World Cup

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Nieshan (second left), ridden by jockey Gerald Avranche and trained by Eric Lemartinel, wins the 2,000m Al Maktoum Challenge race on the all weather track at Meydan on Super Saturday. It was Nieshan’s third successive win, the earlier two coming on turf in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Nieshan emerged as the early favourite for the Kahayla Classic (G1) on Dubai World Cup night with a superb win in yesterday's Al Maktoum Challenge (G1) on theall-weather track at Meydan.

Brilliantly ridden by French jockey Gerald Avranche for French trainer Eric Lemartinel, the Abu Dhabi-based Nieshan beat a strong field which included Kahayla Classic winner Seraphin Du Paon quite comprehensively.

It was Nieshan's third successive win, the earlier two coming on turf in Abu Dhabi including a great win over Seraphin Du Paon in the President's Cup (G1).

The Ernst Oertel-trained Seraphin Du Paon, the defending Kahayla Classic champion, was expected to score a revenge win over Nieshan but under Olivier Peslier finished third behind Ted Durcan-ridden Timadit Al Mels.

Late move

After Richard Hills, on the Doug Watson-trained Paris Gagner, made all the early running, Avranche kept Nieshan in the pack and only made his move once they turned for home in the 11-furlong contest.

Any lingering doubts on Nieshan's ability to repeat the President's Cup win on the all-weather were soon put to rest as the six-year-old son of Akbar cruised home two lengths ahead of Timadit Al Mels with Seraphin Du Paon a further four lengths back.

"Nieshan was in great condition and if he can be in the same condition for the Kahayla Classic he has a good chance," said Avranche.

Steady improvement

Owner Ali Haddad was equally pleased with Nieshan's improvement as the season progressed.

"He is a great horse and has been improving slowly and steadily, he said.

"He is more matured now than last year [when Nieshan finished second to Seraphin Du Paon in the Kahayla Classic]."

"I hope he will reach his peak in the Kahayla Classic," said Haddad, who hopes Nieshan will be joined by his other star, Albar Lotois.

The winning owner also hailed his trainer Lemartinel.

"He is a very hard-working trainer and I never interfere with his work though we meet twice a day," he said.

It was another great result for the Sahbi Rajhi-trained Timadit Al Mels under Durcan.

The five-year-old son of Tidjani earlier finished second in the National Day Cup (G1) to Sahib Du Clos, second to Seraphin Du Paon in the President's Cup prep race and fourth to Nieshan in the President's Cup (G1).

Apart from the beaten Seraphin Du Paon, another horse which disappointed its connections was Sahib Du Clos.

Much was expected of the fast-improving six-year-old son of Kerbella after two Group One wins at Meydan this season, but he faded away to finish seventh under jockey Royston Ffrench.