AT 66, when most would have pulled the shutters down on their dreams, Jean-Claude Pecout has pulled out all stops and embarked on a flight of fantasy he hopes will take shape and give him a shot at the Dubai Kahayla Classic. The Group One contest is the only Purebred Arabian affair on the prestigious Dubai World Cup day programme and after winning the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 for Yas Racing with Brraq, the French handler admitted he would be thrilled to have a spot for his stable star in the race.

In beating horses of a higher rating and, perhaps calibre, Brraq turned around not only his trainer’s fortunes but also his own, his ranking skyrocketing immensely from 87 before the race to 113 at present. Brraq had moved to Pecout’s stable from fellow Yas Racing trainer Jean de Roualle’s yard and it was the former’s decision to field him in the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1, which he won by three-quarters of a length under Adrie de Vries after going forward 200m out.

Pecout was over the moon after watching Brraq finish in style on his top tier debut and said his own first Group One success made him feel like a child who had just won the biggest prize of all. “Really, it’s like a dream come true,” Pecout told Al Adiyat. “I feel like a child that has come to a big place and won the biggest prize of all. I’ve won a lot of races, but this is by far the best and it means a lot.

“To have my first local winner in a Group One is amazing and a lot of credit to Jean de Roualle who trained him before me and told me he was a very good horse. “It is a massive achievement for me and I would like to win the Kahayla Classic because it’s one of the biggest races in the world for P u r e b r e d Arabians.

But today is today and tomorrow is another day and a lot depends on how he recovers from the race and goes forward. We will have to see how he comes out from this race and then figure out a plan for him. “As we all know, Jean is a very good judge and has so often been proved right.” De Roualle, who helped Pecout land the Yas Racing job, might have felt the pain, but he was thrilled to see Yas Racing win and was gracious in defeat even as his own trainee Mirna took tenth behind Brraq.

“This horse is not the easiest to train and his new trainer has done a brilliant job with him. I would not have run him here, so all credit to Jean-Claude on a great result because it was his decision to run the horse in the race and he’s won. Such is life!” De Roualle remarked. Pecout arrived in the UAE after a long stint in Morocco where he trained more than 1,000 winners.

That followed his time working in Tunisia and France, where again he won some big races like the 1990 running of the Grand Prix de Pompadour with Dear Paddy. He was third with Kakou in the 1982 edition of the race. Pecout has 20 under his care at his yard in Al Ain and has 16 dispatches to show so far with Brraq’s success the o b v i o u s high point of his time in the Emirates.

He has also enjoyed two runner-up places and three thirds, with two more taking minor p i c k i n g s in the money spots. “I am very grateful to Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the management at Yas Racing for giving me this opportunity to come and train horses here for them. It feels like a dream come true for me.

I’ve won a lot of races but this is by far one of the best and it means a lot. “I’ve known Jean de Roualle for a long time. He’s seen how I work with horses and he helped me to come work with Yas Racing. It’s a big pleasure to be working with the horses of Sheikh Mansoor and be training horses at Yas Racing.” Having already repaid that trust, it might be time for Pecout’s own dream to come true and in the process bring Yas Racing a first ever Kahayla Classic title.