Fascinating 4-Year-Olds Clash With Elders In Feature Before Sharjah Season Concludes With A Marathon

Sharjah Longines Racecourse stages its final fixture of the season on Saturday afternoon, highlighted by HE Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup, a 1700m Prestige handicap for which 14 have been declared, the weights headed by Mumayaza, one of three in the race due to be saddled by Eric Lemartinel.

Owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and the mount of Antonio Fresu, the 4-year-old filly has won twice from five starts, most notably the 1600m Emirates Fillies Classic, a Prestige race, on her penultimate start. The dirt debutante and only filly in the race will, however, have to concede weight to her 13 rivals.

Fresu said: “Obviously this is a different test but she showed a bit of class when I won on her at Abu Dhabi which is the only time I rode her. Hopefully we can remain unbeaten as a pairing!”

For his main patron, Lemartinel also saddles Asyyad, seemingly the choice of Fabrice Veron, and RB Grynade, winner of the last two renewals of the 2700m Sharjah Marathon, but subsequently rated too highly to attempt to defend that crown this year.

Another 4-year-old, Munfared is unbeaten on dirt, winning at Al Ain over both 1400m and 2000m, victories sandwiched between well beaten efforts on the Abu Dhabi turf.

Fernando Jara rides for Ahmed Al Mehairbi and Al Rahmani Racing. The jockey said: “I won on him when he landed his maiden and he then proved he stays well, so Saturday’s trip is not an issue.

“Like Al Ain, Sharjah is a flat dirt track, but Al Ain is clockwise whereas Sharjah is left-handed, but that should not be a problem. We have a nice low weight and he should run well in a good race.”

Another 4-year-old to have won half his races is Omani representative Al Mufham SB, well beaten on his local and turf debut in the 2200m Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown. Prior to that, he did win thrice in Muscat for trainer Badar Al Hajri and Saturday’s conditions should suit.

Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, his main trainer Ernst Oertel and retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, rely on AF Kal Noor, twice victorious after ten starts to date. A 6-year-old homebred entire, he won the HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Cup, a Prestige contest over Saturday’s 1700m course and distance last February, having landed a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden on his previous outing, more than three months previously in November 2019. He has not really fired in six outings this season, although four have been on turf whereas both his victories have been on dirt.

O’Shea said: “We galloped him at Meydan last week and he went well. This looks a good race for him, albeit a competitive one, but the horses have been running well all season so, hopefully, he can.”

Others to consider in a wide open contest include AF Ramz and Duc De Faust, Szczepan Mazur riding the latter for The Omani Royal Cavalry and Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.

The final race of the Sharjah season is the aforementioned Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap which could develop into a duel between the Lemartinel and Oertel squads.

For the latter O’Shea partners AF Mahaleel with Richard Mullen aboard stablemate AF Al Baher. Lemartinel saddles three, the bookings of Veron for Basmah and Fresu aboard Jeemi suggesting they are considered the best chances.