NOTALOT VETOED the name given to him when he did a lot and went all out to claim last week’s feature race for Tariq Issa at the Racing and Equestrian Club in Doha in what was the trainer’s first race of the season. While it turned out to be a case of first time lucky for the trainer, Notalot, under Gerald Avranche, bounced back from a series of lukewarm performances to claim what turned out to be a fine success by a length in the 1200m Marmi Cup sprint. The Jassim Mohammed Ghazalisaddled Pleaseletmewin, ridden by Harry Bentley on his first outing in Doha since being imported from the UK, pushed hard to turn the race into a match after entering the final straight, but Notalot proved too strong and raced ahead to win by a length.
What A Surprise, trained by Ibrahim Al Malki, placed third under Alberto Sanna, a further three lengths behind. JM Ghazali and Bentley may have been denied the plaudits in the feature race of the night, which was also the last on the eight race card, but they combined to clinch success in the penultimate race, another handicap sprint over 1200m. It was a run that was comfortably won by Champion Jockey Bentley, who kept another UK import, Hope Cove, two and a half lengths ahead of the Al Malki-trained Shaka Zulu, on his first run in Doha. Ridden by Saleem Golam, Shaka Zulu finished a neck ahead at the wire from Alizoom, trained by Deborah Mountain, who ran under Faleh Bughanaim.
While Hope Cove turned out to be JM Ghazali’s only success of the night, Bentley scripted one more victory when mounted atop Ventura Shadow, winning another 1200m handicap for Mohammed Jassim Ghazali, the trainer’s second success of the night. It turned out to be a close race with Ventura Shadow only just holding on at the end by a short head after coming under pressure from stablemate Town Crier, who was the mount of Pierantonio Convertino. In third place, two lengths behind was the Avranche-ridden Shaqran, trained by Khalid Al Nuaimi. Alberto Sanna and trainer Mohammed Hussain were in the winner’s enclosure when Al Aayar claimed the 1200m handicap for Purebred Arabians by a short head from Kasser, who was saddled by trainer Mohammed Al Sheeb and was ridden by Bentley.
Coming in third, a distant six lengths behind was Rabiah Al Kaabi’s charge Sand Legend. The trainer and jockey combinations of Al Malki and Eduardo Pedroza, and Alban de Mieulle and Gaetan Faucon won the other two Arabian races on the card. Al Malki and Pedroza went to collect their prize after Umm Taqa Cup winner Mowhoubat Al Zaidy claimed a 1700m plate by a neck from MJ Ghazali’s ward Al Marboush, whose rider Bentley fell short by the narrowest of margins yet again. She’ris, trained by Julian Smart and ridden by Sanna, was third a length behind.
De Mieulle and Faucon added their names to the winners list following Al Rabiah’s length and a half success in the 1200m Local Purebred Arabian maiden. Marjan, trained by MJ Ghazali and ridden by JP Guillambert, was second with the Mubarak Al Khayrin runner, Udai Al Wajba, placing third under Bentley. Al Malki’s second success of the night arrived courtesy of Al Uraiq Secret, who has now won five out of his seven runs. Until last Thursday, the cold owned by Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani had won all his races on turf, but he made a seamless switch to dirt and won the 1200m handicap for local Thoroughbreds by a massive seven lengths from Al Thakira who is with trainer Wasim Mohammed and was ridden on the night by Sanna.
Darren Williams’ mount Shahd Al Asal placed third a further length and a quarter behind. MJ Ghazali was the other trainer to land a double, initiated in the opening race when local jockey Abdullah Al Marri rode Al Fouz to success in a 1200m handicap. Al Fouz was a neck ahead of Comedy Night, with Yes We Can Dream a further three lengths behind.