By Russell Smith
FRENCH trainer Charles Gourdain is backing Rodess du Loup to take high order in the echelon of Arabian racehorses after the colt recorded a silky smooth success in the President of the UAE Cup (UK Arabian Derby) (Group 1 PA) at Doncaster on Saturday 15th September.
Gourdain, who claimed the prestigious £80,000 one-mile-and-a-quarter four-year-olds’ contest with Nafees 12 months ago, was thrilled to repeat the feat with the Khalifa Hamad Al Attiyah-owned grey.
Belgian superstar jockey Christophe Soumillon gave the son of Dahess the perfect waiting ride before producing his mount up the inside to stretch clear of fellow French raider Rijm.
Rodess du Loup forged ahead to pass the post a length clear of old rival Rajeh, who pipped Rijm in the final strides to claim second by a short head as French horses completed a clean sweep of the first three places.
Shomoos Athbah, trained by Phil Collington at Newmarket, ran creditably to be the best of the home team, a further two-and-a-half length back in fourth.
Gourdain said: “We have done it again. I think he is a very, very good horse. The pace was not strong enough for him, so he definitely could be even better if there is a good pace in the race and a good gallop.
“Today the pace was very slow and Christophe told me was he was pulling all the way round.
“He has done it even better than ever. I think perfect good ground like today rather than on the soft was what he really likes.
“I think today he has shown he could be one of the best. I thought he was as good as Nafees and he has confirmed it today.”
Rodess du Loup, who was turning the tables on Rajeh from their last meeting in the Doha Cup – Prix Manganate (Group 1 PA) at Deauville last month, could now head for the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Group 1 PA) at Longchamp on October 7.
“He has been put in the big race at Longchamp against the older horses and he might go there”, he added. “We will see how he recovers in the next three weeks, but it is a bit short.”
Gourdain was also full of praise for Soumillon and his masterful ride.
“I think he is the best that we could have,” he said. “We are very lucky to have him riding the horse. He is a very professional guy and in life he is a very good man. He is a friend and it’s nice to work with him.”
Soumillon also believes Rodess du Loup has a very bright future.
“He is a very nice horse and I won on him in Chantilly and was very impressed,” he said. “He was then a bit fresh at Deauville and was pulling lots.
“Today the pace was a bit slow, but he felt very well and I was happy to be on the rail.
“I think he could be one of the best Arabian horses and just hope he improves like he has done from the beginning.”
Rajeh, from Francois Rohaut’s Sauvagnon stables, near Pau, was never able to get a blow in at the winner under Francois Xavier Bertras for owner HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, while Rijm ran a cracker for La Palmyre trainer Thomas Fourcy in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing with Faleh Bughenaim on board.
Collington was delighted with Shomoos Athbah’s effort as the Athbah Stud-owned filly stayed on to take fourth place under Tadhg O’Shea.
“I am very pleased with her,” he said. “She was beaten just over three-and-a-half lengths. The race time was 2mins 25secs, which was a little bit slow. To be at her best she needs a good sound gallop – she ran 2.16 at Newbury. I would like to get her in a bigger field with a good gallop.
“She is entered in France in the fillies’ race at Longchamp on the Saturday.”
Rajeh’s stablemate, Goumoh was fifth, with Peter Hammersley’s pair Abiyah Athbah, owned by Dilmun Racing, sixth and Asraa Min Al-Talqa completing the finishers after making the running until the final two furlongs.
Hammersley said: “I am pleased with the filly. For her second run I thought she ran really well. Racheal Kneller said she was very keen early on, but travelled really well and didn’t quite get home.
“I have always thought on breeding seven furlongs or a mile would suit her best, so that will be the way we will be going next year. She will probably go back to her owner now for the winter and will be back in the spring.
“The other one has probably run to his mark.”
Willie McFarland, from ARO, said: “This has been a great day. To be part of a meeting that holds such prestige and heritage to UK horseracing means a lot. It is great to be on this stage and give visibility to Arabian Racing as part of the celebrated St Leger meeting. We must thank our sponsors The President of the UAE for their generous support – they have been supporting ARO for a long time and we are incredibly grateful to them. The team at Doncaster have also been amazing and our thanks must go to them too.”