11 March 2023

Sharjah season concludes Sunday with ruler’s cup

Sunday is the final fixture of the current campaign to be staged at Sharjah highlighted by a Prestige contest, the 1700m HH The Ruler of Sharjah Cup, won last year by AF Maqam for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea.

They are back to attempt to defend their title and it will be a big surprise if they are not a major danger to the remaining 10 in a feature restricted to 4&5yos who were foaled in the UAE.

As a 4yo filly, but a maiden after four starts, Fadiah Al Wathba receives a very healthy weight allowance and appears a big danger. Third on debut, staying on well over 1200m on this track, her three subsequent outings have been on the Abu Dhabi turf, highlighted by a neck defeat on her penultimate outing in the 1600m Emirates Fillies Classic.

Before that she was also second in the 1400m Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic so she has twice finished runner-up at this Prestige level. The step up to 2200m and Group Three company proved too much for her last week and this looks a more suitable assignment. Bernardo Pinheiro, riding at the top of his game, is in the saddle for Majed Al Jahoori.

She is owned by Al Wathba Racing as is Hakaam, a 5yo entire in the most capable hands of Jean de Roualle and the mount of Dane O’Neill. Well beaten in the 1900m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 on his latest start, five weeks ago, he was runner-up over this 1700m prior to that in the GCC Cup, beaten just a neck.

He was a close third to AF Maqam in this race last year and looks likely to be involved at the business end again in what appears a good renewal.

Runner-up to AF Maqam in this 12 months ago was Yas Xmnsor who has seemingly improved in the interim for Khalifa Al Neyadi but was touched off, by just a neck, by the same rival in the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup, over 1600m on the turf in the capital. That too was a Prestige contest and on what was Al Neyadi charge’s penultimate start.

The mount of Omani Amur Al Rasbi, (Pinheiro has ridden him on each of his three most recent starts) he had won his previous two outings, most notably, under Pinheiro, the 1200m HH The Crown Prince Of Sharjah Cup, another race with Prestige status, on this track, in January.

More recently, he was far from disgraced in the 1600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah on the dirt track at Meydan Racecourse, finishing fourth in what looked a decent renewal.

Another maiden in the field that should not be discounted is JAP Mehna, to be saddled by Irfan Ellahi whose horses normally seem to enjoy the Sharjah surface. Runner-up on his second career start, here over this 1700m, the 4yo colt has not really built on that in three subsequent outings but it would be no great surprise were he to thereabouts under Jean Van Overmeire.