Competitive handicaps highlight Sharjah’s Saturday card with sole Thoroughbred race the valuable official feature

There are six races at the second Sharjah Longines Racecourse fixture of the campaign on Saturday with pride of place going to the only Thoroughbred contest, the AED 200,000 HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, a competitive 1700m handicap for which a capacity field of 16 has been declared.

Bhupat Seemar celebrated a Meydan double last Thursday, the first time he had saddled runners as the licence holder at Zabeel Stables, and relies on Dolmen, the mount of local Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

A Sharjah winner, over 2000m in December 2019, his other two career successes were on the Meydan turf, a 2000m maiden in April 2019 and, most recently, a handicap at the 1800m trip in January 2020.

Seemar said: “He won there at Sharjah a couple of years ago so conditions are not a concern but the draw is; we are very wide which is far from ideal.
“That said, he seems in good form and we expect him to run a good race.”

Last year’s winner, Galvanize, is back to defend his title and, from four Doug Watson runners, is the choice of Pat Dobbs.
Sam Hitchcott appears to have opted to partner Pharoah King with the Watson challenge completed by Far Sky and Verboten, the mounts of George Buckell and Dane O’Neill respectively.

Watson said: “All four are in good form at home. Verboten and Far Sky have the advantage of having run this season, Galvanize we know likes Sharjah and Pharoah King has only had seven starts and just four since arriving in the UAE with us.
“Hopefully we are going there with four good chances in an open looking handicap.”

For Jebel Ali racecourse patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Nicholas Bachalard relies on Top Clearance. Now a 9yo, the Majestic Warrior gelding is starting to look well handicapped having not tasted victory since March 2017, over 1950m, at Jebel Ali.

The owner’s retained jockey, Richard Mullen, is in the saddle and Bachalard said: “We had him entered at Jebel Ali on Friday but decided to try something new with him because he has never been to Sharjah but has run plenty of times at Jebel Ali, as well as Meydan.
“He goes there in good form and we are hoping he will enjoy the change of scenery.”

One of two in the field for Salem bin Ghadayer and the choice of Royston Ffrench, Tolmount was a good 1600m handicap winner when losing his maiden tag at Jebel Ali a month ago, while stable companion, Monoski, the mount of Xavier Ziani, should be cherry ripe for this third start of the season.

Bin Ghadayer said: “We hope both have a good chance as they are doing well at home. Monoski has progressed from both runs this season and Tolmount won nicely at Jebel Ali.”

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is an equally competitive 2000m handicap in which Ray Dawson will be hoping to win again aboard Wakeel W’Rsan, the pair having scored in a 14000m handicap on the Abu Dhabi turf for Jaci Wickham 13 days ago.

Now a 6yo, the entire horse shed his maiden tag here at Sharjah, over 1700m, in December 2020, so the surface is not an issue and his only other victory, on the Abu Dhabi turf, was over 2200m, so his stamina for this trip is proven.

Ernst Oertal saddles four, all for Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda whose retained jockey, fellow champion Tadhg O’Shea, elects to ride AF Soqrat.

That leaves spare rides for Malin Holmberg, Antonio Fresu and apprentice Leandro Chimenes, who makes his UAE debut with two mounts on the card, aboard AF Mezmar, AF Abahe and AF Mahaleel respectively.

With Abdallah Al Hammadi making such a bright start to the season, his pair of Majdi and Safin Al Reef merit consideration as do the Salem Al Ketbi duo of Mootahady and Qassim, the latter the preferred choice of Richard Mullen.