15 March 2015

Unbeaten Abhaar Collects Sharjahs Biggest Prize in HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Cup

Sharjah’s final and biggest meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon was highlighted by the Aed150,000 HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Cup and, as expected, the 1700m Prestige conditions stakes went the way of Abhaar.

The victory was not achieved without incident though as the four-year-old, owned and bred by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and making it five wins from five starts, seemed determined to cross towards the standside rail at the top of the straight.

Luckily he was a long way clear at the time and, despite losing a lot of momentum, jockey Tadhg O’Shea, riding for trainer Salem Al Ketbi, was able to straighten him out and they won easily in the end.

“He is a very nice horse as we have always maintained and I rode him knowing he was the best horse in the race,” said O’Shea. “I was happy all the way round until he hung across the straight. It was his first run on dirt and left-handed which maybe had something to do with it, or may have just been idling as he was in front a long way.

“He ran on well once I straightened him and he could be a lovely horse next season.”

Zaffaan won the main support race, the Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap and formerly the longest Purebred Arabian event in the UAE (Al Ain held a 3000m contest last year and have raced over 3200m this year).

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, he was sent to the front by Paul Hanagan, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, early in the straight after a tussle with Sheikh Hamdan's Fantastique MHF and the pair were always in control.

“He has stayed the trip really well,” said Hanagan. “He was always travelling well within himself and did it nicely.”

There can be no doubting the courage of the Doug Watson-trained Famous Warrior, the ultra game winner of the only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2000m conditions contest.

Jumped out in front by Sam Hitchcott, the pair were clear at halfway and still maintained a healthy advantage as the field swung for home. It was at this stage his early exertions started to take their toll but he dug deep to withstand the late challenge of Al Nassa.

“He was caught on the line two starts ago by another horse of ours, State Law,” said Watson. “So it was great he managed to hold on today and I am delighted for the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC) who owns him.”

Owner and trainer wasted no time in doubling up with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, sending Kokomo for home as the runners in a 1700m maiden turned into the straight, the pair kicking clear and leaving 11 rivals toiling.

It was a fourth career start for the mare, wearing a visor for the first time.

“We knew she had ability,” said Watson. “She is still learning about the game and we popped a visor on to sharpen her up. Luckily it worked.”

The card opened with a 1200m maiden won, in the dying strides, by AZ Laheeb, ridden by Shane Karlsson for trainer Saleha Al Ghurair her first winner of the season. Never far off the pace, set by Bin Arar, it was that rival he denied close home with AZ Laheeb opening his account at the 15th attempt.

“He has shown plenty of speed throughout,” said Karlsson. “He really kept on strongly and we led where it mattered.”

Karlsson later suffered a similar fate, caught close home on Bedayer Al Asayl by Ameer Al Sraya, trained by Helal Al Alawi and ridden by Szczepan Mazur who timed his run well to burst through the two leaders.