Competitive action as always at Sharjah, albeit now on a Sunday

Sharjah Longines Racecourse stage racing for the first time in 2022 on Sunday with an intriguing six race card highlighted by the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup, a 1200m handicap with Prestige status and restricted to horses foaled in the UAE.

The racecourse has traditionally raced on a Saturday but with the new UAE weekend taking affect will now be staging Sunday meetings.

Majed Al Jahoori and Al Wathba Racing won the race last year with Jawaal and are represented this time by Shawall, the mount of Bernardo Pinheiro who has struck up a strong association with these connections.

A homebred 7yo gelding, he won a maiden over this Sharjah 1200m in February of last year so conditions are fine and the trainer is having a decent season.

For Champion UAE Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Ernst Oertel runs two with UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea, retained by the owner, opting to be aboard AF Thayer. That leaves the spare ride on AF Yakhtem for Sandro Paiva.

Irfan Ellahi’s runners always merit a second glance on this track so his 5yo entire JAP Aneed, homebred by Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, enters calculations aslong with stable companion JAP Alhattal.

That said he was well beaten in this race last year but that was his only start of the season whereas he has already run twice this campaign, opening his dirt account on the most recent appearance, over 1000m at Al Ain.

Sawt Assalam, for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, is another to consider Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Kasaied for a trainer who is in the middle of a tremendous campaign.

At the head of the weights and needing to concede 7kgs to all her rivals is Dhafra, the mount of Richard Mullen for Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and trainer Salem Al Ketbi.

Obviously the class act in the race, the 6yo mare seems to relish the Sharjah conditions, having won a 1000m handicap here last April and finishing second, to the aforementioned Jawaal, in a Prestige race in December 2020.

Over 1700m and also for those foaled locally, the Emirates Breeders Trophy has attracted Elise Jeanne’s stable star MH Rahal, rated 100, as well as Al Nabooda’s AF Al Sajanjle who O’Shea and Oertel will be hoping can bounce back after some lacklustre efforts.

The latter actually has an official rating of 105 whereas the former at least comes here in decent form.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1200m handicap, looks typically wide open for such Sharjah events.

For Shadwell and Erwan Charpy, Mujeeb ran very well when third over 1600m at Al Ain on his second of four starts this season. Admittedly, the other three runs have been disappointing, including two at Sharjah, but he is starting to look very well handicapped.

For the same owner, Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddles Edaraat who has been running well this season, including a fourth over this course and distance. That was his seasonal return which he followed by finishing second, over 1400m, at Al Ain.

Doug Watson duo Benin and Shanghai Tong, as well as Corojo for the Bhupat Seemar who are in great form, are also on an expanding shortlist.