Abu Dhabi: RB Torch announced himself as a leading contender for next month’s Dh5 million Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, one of the richest races for Purebred Arabians when winning the prep race at Abu Dhabi with a fair degree of comfort on Friday evening.
With six-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea in the saddle for Al Asayl trainer Eric Lemartinel, the eight-year-old finished the 1,600 metre contest strongly, crossing the line a length clear of stable companion Darius Du Paon.
With five horses bunched together, the photo-finish camera was called upon the decide the lesser placing with Taser and Szezepan Mazur taking third place ahead of Goshawke, the mount of Pat Dobs and Es Ajeeb fifth for Sam Hitchcottt.
Less than a length separated the four horses.
RB Torch was making his first racecourse appearance in close to 200 days but showed no signs of rustiness as he repeated his heroics of two years ago in the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep.
O’Shea, who was opening his account for the 2019-20 UAE flat racing season was full of praise for the winner, whose famous victories include the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup last season and the Group 2 Bani Yas at Meydan.
O’Shea was full of praise for the winner and said: “Even as a four-year-old I knew she would progress into a very nice horse and she keeps getting better and better each year.
“Full marks to Eric and his team who have done a great job getting her fit and ready for this race,” he said. “She will definitely improve for the effort so we can look forward to having a good season with her.
“I have enjoyed plenty of success with him and am happy to be back today. It’s my first winner of the season, so it’s good to get that out of the way.”
The Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep was introduced to provide UAE-trained horses with the opportunity to race before the feature which traditionally attracts strong contenders mainly from Europe and America.