Thursday’s tenth meeting of the season at Nad Al Sheba, kindly sponsored by Keeneland, was highlighted by a 1200m conditions sprint, The Keeneland Trophy, on the dirt, as well as the first two turf races on the UAE’s flagship racecourse.

Jerry Barton, who trains in Saudi Arabia but has a team based at Nofa Stables at Nad Al Sheba for his Prince Sultan Mohd Saud Al Kabeer, was the man to follow with two winners for his main patron.

Assistant trainer Stephane Chevalier was present to saddle Big City Man, winner of the featured sprint, as well as Noble Bedouin who won the first turf race of the season, a 2000m handicap.

Both were ridden by Jose Verenzuela, from Panama, but could not have been registered in more contrasting fashion; Big City Man made virtually all in his race, whereas Noble Bedouin was still last turning for home.

Thrice a winner in the States, from only four starts, Big City Man was having his first outing since August 2007 and always looked in control. It was an impressive effort.

Noble Bedouin, winning for the first time on his ninth start and first on grass, led right on the line in a thrilling four way fight to the wire.

Chevalier was obviously delighted: “Big City Man we hoped we run well as his USA form is strong. We were just concerned about the lay-off.

“We have Noble Bedouin here for the turf as he does not handle the dirt at home. Hopefully he will get in the Carnival now.”

The second turf race, the concluding 1600m The Kentucky Trophy handicap, was won by Fernando Jara on Doug Watson’s T-Bird.

He too was virtually last swinging for home but flew home to win going away. Jara explained: “When I switched him out to chase the leaders he has picked up really well. He has a lot of ability and enjoyed the return to grass.”

Satish Seemar’s Kala Kanta was arguably the fortunate winner of the 1600m maiden after Al Wujood, who led most of the way, hung markedly across the track, throwing away his winning chance.

Richard Mullen was on the winner and smiled: “We were probably a bit lucky but I was able to avoid the other horse which was a big relief.”

If Mullen was lucky on that winner, he was masterful in the following 1600m The Jessamine Handicap, which he won on Rod Simpson’s Shahin Shah who only hit the front in the very last stride.

Mullen explained: “There was very little pace on and he has ground down the runner-up – stamina will be his forte but he was brave.”

Racing opened with a quality 2000m conditions race, The Woodford Trophy, the only race on the card for Purebred Arabians and it was won by Shadiyda, trained in Abu Dhabi by Eric Lemartinel.

Next Thursday’s meeting is the first of the $31million 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival.