ZMAN AWAL opens new season with Al Ghariya Cup win

AL GHARIYA CUP (Class 2 Thoroughbred fillies & mares)

The highest rated horse in the field stayed true to her rating in the new season’s opening feature. Alberto Sanna rode the Mohammed Bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah-owned ZMAN AWAL (Dubawi x Pivotal Lady) to a fine victory in the seven furlong race. The 6yo mare was lightly raced last year and was below her best, but started the new season with a bang, moving through traffic on the straight before surging past early leader BOTANICA (Clodovil x Bent Al Fala) and HILLSIDE DREAM (Dream Ahead x Knapton Hill) for her eighth career win. The win was Zman Awal’s first since she won over the same course and distance in a conditions event last year.


He may have finished at the back of the pack in his last outing last season, but MARJAN (Atlantic Air x Al Basmah), ridden by Jean Baptiste Hamel in the colours of Umm Qarn, had no intention of starting the new season that way. The Alban de Mieulle-trained 5yo edged out the favourite FOOTPRINTINTHESAND (Footstepsinthesand x Adventures), who finished in the top three for the 13th straight time, by three quarters of a length. Ridden by Faleh Bughanaim, the Ahmed Kobeissi-saddled 6yo had gone past MURAQABAH (Great Journey x Magic Kaldoun) just a few metres back for his second spot.


Champion Trainer Jassim Mohammed Ghazali’s ISTIBDAD (AF Albahar x Mari Chou) was expected to top this seven furlong run and he did not disappoint. The 6yo registered his sixth career victory, this time under Pierantonio Convertino, who did well to keep his ride on the rails in the final furlong, going on the inside and staying ahead of a fast closing MEQDAM AL ZAIDY (Al Mudaffar x El Modamerah), trained by Ibrahim Al Malki, at the post by half a length. Eduardo Pedroza rode the Sheikh Faisal Bin Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani-owned 7yo to his best finish in seven races this calendar year. Al Jeryan Stud’s AJS INTIFADAH (AF Albahar x Karreema) rounded the top three.


Mohammed Ali Yousef Al Sheeb’s KASSER (AF Albahar x Wujdan) registered his first victory on turf when Marvin Suerland rode him to a thrilling victory in the mile long run on Thursday. Kasser’s two career wins, both last season, so far were on dirt. This time round, Suerland did enough to have his ride finish ahead of QAA’ED (Amer x TM La Belle Proper), ridden by talented Qatari jockey Faleh Bughanaim for trainer Ahmed Mohamad Kobeissi, and third placed RODIN (Dahess x Rossignol), who raced to his best finish in Qatar so far.


HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s ARGHAD (Munjiz x Margouia) and Patrice Nicolet’s PRINCE AMER (Amer x Amindala Princess) had both shown promise in France. On Thursday, on their Qatar debut, Alban de Mieulle’s ward Prince Amer ran out of the track as Arghad, saddled by Julian Smart, won by just by a nose. Arghad was moved into lead by Alberto Sanna early on even as Jean Baptiste Hamel bided his time on Prince Amer. He perhaps left it a tad bit too late as the margin eventually suggested. The top two were in a league of their own as AL KABEER (No Risk Al Maury x Al Dahma), ridden by Stephan Ladjadj, finished more than 10 lengths behind for third spot.


Umm Qarn colours locked the front two spots when Alban de Mieulle’s charges SEMAISIMA (Amer x Mashaael) and MOUHOOBAH (Mahabb x Al Dahma) topped the seven furlong run on the season’s opening day. The race was Semaisima’s first ever outing and under Jean Baptiste Hamel, the filly just flew past the rivals in the final furlong for a memorable maiden victory. Mouhoubah, who was running around the Al Rayyan track for the first time, had shown promise during her runs in France and did well for a second spot ahead of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s KONOUZ (Jaafer ASF x Nisaee).


Almost three years after shedding his maiden status at the QREC turf over six furlongs, Al Thumama Racing’s COPLEYS WALK (Excellent Art x Silk Slippers) won on Thursday over the same course and distance for his second career win. The Mohammed Hussain Afroz-saddled gelding was ridden by Tomas Lukasek to a fine second career victory, a length and three quarters ahead of Marc Lerner’s ride PRIMITORIO (Oratorio x Primissima) , with Alberto Sanna guiding TOP FACE (Tiznow x Toppisme) for a third place finish.


Deen had finished in the frame in her final two starts last season. In the opening race of the season, DEEN (Muthaaber x One Cool Mission), ridden by Marvin Suerland, had little trouble to comfortably finish ahead of the field by a length to shed her maiden status in four career starts. Eduardo Pedroza helmed MISTER LAL (Abide With Me x Adventuress) to second place ahead of KHOUD (Abide With Me x Colorado Springs), ridden by Yousef Al Hajri.