Author: Duane Fonseca

AT THE start of the season Nicholas Bachalard had said he wanted to repay his chief employer Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s trust in his abilities by having a runner feature in his colours on the Dubai World Cup night programme. The French conditioner has walked the talk with Mouheeb ready to rumble in the 1900m Group 2 UAE Derby having earned his spot with a hard fought victory in the 1600m Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas on 4 February.

The 3yo Flatter colt has won two of his three starts so far, having shed his maiden status in a 1200m Jebel Ali affair under top British rider Tom Marquand on 18 December and having subsequently placed second, just a head behind Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance in the 1600m UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on 14 January.

And with the decision being taken to send Mouheeb straight to the UAE Derby, Bachalard, Sheikh Ahmed’s appointed resident trainer in the UAE, feels the pressure on him has eased off a bit. “Mouheeb has been doing well and we’ll probably go straight for the UAE Derby,” Bachalard reported.

“He came out of the UAE 2000 Guineas race well and is doing well. There were only 16 days between the UAE Guineas and the 1600m Saudi Derby and if we thought he wasn’t going to stretch then maybe we would have gone to Saudi, but hopefully he will so we preferred to stay here with him and run fresh in the UAE Derby.

“Mohammed Al Shehhi, director general of Sheikh Ahmed’s office, had a word with Sheikh Ahmed and they decided that we’ll go straight to the Derby and we’ll respect that. “Hopefully, he is a horse that will do well on World Cup night. It’s been a hard time for me and for us at Jebel Ali the last few years so just to be able to achieve that big night objective is big. We hope we can get to the race well and things will go well for us.”

Bachalard has plenty to be thankful for and was grateful for the patience shown in him by Sheikh Ahmed and Al Shehhi. He thanked his staff too for delivering what has clearly been his breakthrough year in the Emirates since his arrival in 2018. “I think it’s not just about me but the whole team and there are a lot of people behind the scenes who have worked really hard,” said Bachalard, who is operating at a strike rate of having saddled eight winners and enjoyed a further eight runners up places and five thirds from the 40 he sent out thus far.

“We do a lot of work at the stable and it’s not just a one person job. It’s certainly everything with the maintenance personnel at the stable, my assistant, Seth Benzel, and jockey Ryan Curatolo who came in and it’s the whole programme with Sheikh Ahmed going to the sales and buying new horses. “Shamikh, winner of last week’s Pat Smullen Condition Stakes, came from Ocala, Mouheeb too and they have done well. Sheikh Ahmed has invested heavily in horses and that has helped us to have a good season.

Mohammed was also under a lot of pressure and they stuck with us and we’re glad that they did. One year is not enough and hopefully we will be able to carry it on for the next few years, but I guess for this season everybody will be happy and will be able to sleep in peace.”