Competitive action as racing returns to Sharjah

The first Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club meeting of the new campaign is on Saturday afternoon when there is a six race card, highlighted by the sole Thoroughbred contest, a 1000m handicap.

Thirteen have been declared with the weights headed by Paranormal, owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti and to be partnered by Pat Dobbs, riding for his main employer, the Champion Trainer, Doug Watson.

Formerly with Godolphin, he raced just once for them in England and made a very pleasing local debut when, at Sharjah, he was second in a 1700m maiden.

Three outings later, back on this course, he lost that maiden tag when successful in a 1200m handicap and as a four-year-old who has made only six career starts, looks the type of young horse who can progress this season.

Watson said: “He is fit, well and ready for a run so we thought this looked a good opportunity. His best runs have been when racing prominently and we think he will cope with the shorter trip.”

Ahmad bin Harmash saddles a pair of three-year-olds for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum with jockey bookings implying Al Abyad, the mount of Connor Beasley, is considered a more likely winner than Sabegg who will be partnered by Royston Ffrench.

“They have only had seven runs between them and, we hope have more to offer this season,” said Bin Harmash. “Our horses mostly ran well last week so, hopefully, that can continue.”

Pat Cosgrave won on Shillong for Helal Al Alawi and The Byerley Team at Jebel Ali last Friday and the trio combine here with Logistics. Winner once, from 12 starts, that victory, last December was over 1200m here at Sharjah and he should run well.

Also successful over the Sharjah 1200m, albeit in December 2010, is the veteran, Montmorency, 11-years-old and a great servant over the years to Satish Seemar.

The mount of Richard Mullen, he was a 1000m Al Ain winner last December and should produce his usual, honest effort.

He was chased home on that occasion by Intermedium, back in opposition with Tadhg O’Shea riding for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

O’Shea said: “He is working well enough at home. It looks a tough race but hopefully he will be competitive.”

Gopi Selvaratnam, the new trainer at Jebel Ali Stables, relies on War Spirit for Mohammed Saeed Al Shahi, the new racing manager for Selvaratnam’s main employer, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Thrice a winner, all over this 1000m trip on turf, he was third, only a length behind the winner Paranormal, in the aforementioned 1200m course handicap when last seen in March and may relish this return to the minimum trip.

A 1700m handicap is the best of the Purebred Arabian action and Elise Jeanne appears to have two live hopes in the form of MH Lazzaz and MH Kanz.
Each of her pair were Sharjah winners last December, MH Lazzaz, over 1200m, while MH Kanz was a course and distance winner.

Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel were responsible for four entries so it must be significant they elect to run just AF Kafu, the mount of Antonio Fresu.

He remains a maiden after seven starts, while Hawafez has also yet to win, after nine runs, but represents the powerful combination of Eric Lemartinel and his main patron, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Tadhg O’Shea rides and said: “He seems in good form and we are hoping trying this longer trip will be in his favour.”