The prestigious President Cup fixture in Abu Dhabi was officially highlighted by the 2,200-metre Purebred Arabian Group 1 version of the coveted prize and won by a resurgent Somoud, defending his crown in gritty fashion.
Confidently ridden by Adrie de Vries, Jean de Roualle’s stable star in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s Yas Racing loomed into contention on the home turn before hitting the front halfway up the short straight, the eight year old homebred entire staying on gamely to repeat his victory of 12 months ago.
It was a fourth outing this campaign for the horse who had been somewhat disappointing thus far this season. After winning this last year he then successfully defended his crown in the Emirates Championship over the track and trip and his most likely next assignment.
De Roualle said: “He is a great horse and we have never lost faith in him but he had been a bit disappointing so we changed a few things and put the blinkers back on so we are delighted it worked out.”
De Vries added: “I am delighted for Jean, his team and the owners. It is great to see him bounce back and, as Jean just said to me, this is a race he loves to target and win.”
The Thoroughbred equivalent, the 1,400m Listed President Cup provided John Hyde the perfect opportunity to open his account as a trainer at just the fifth attempt, saddling local debutant Haqeeqy to record a facile success under Dane O’Neill for Shadwell.
A five year old gelded son of Lope De Vega, he won four times in Britain, including the prestigious Lincoln Handicap, when trained by John and Thady Gosden for Sheikha Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum.
He was far too good here, seemingly always travelling well under O’Neill before unleashing a withering challenge down the centre of the track, grabbing the initiative with just under 200m remaining and with the race instantly in safekeeping.
O’Neill said: “It’s a great result and story for everyone involved. We were pretty hopeful but in these big fields around here you need a bit of luck but, at halfway, I knew I was going to be hard to beat and he did it very well in the end.”