07 January 2024

ERA Sharjah Preview

Thoroughbred racing takes centrestage at Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club with the 2024 running of the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup (4pm), the feature event on Sunday’s six-race programme.

Julio Olascoaga-schooled Ajuste Fiscal (Jose da Silva) is top rated among the 12 that will canter to the gates for the 1700m Conditions affair for runners aged four and above.

The race has attracted a number of serious milers, who have performed well in more competitive conditions at Meydan and among the top hopes is the aforementioned Ajuste Fiscal, the recent winner of a 1900m handicap at Meydan.

Sharjah marks the seven-year-old Ioya Bigtime gelding’s first-ever start outside of Dubai during this time in the UAE and with Da Silva returning to take the ride he should be as present as he was when winning a month ago. Sixth behind stablemate Atletico El Culano, who Da Silva preferred over him in a subsequent run, Ajuste Fiscal has plenty of big match experience to make this his.

Another top prospect is Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s five-year-old Street Boss entire, Street Mood (Bernardo Pinheiro), who is a three time winner on the mile strip at Meydan.

Street Mood showed a bit of ring rust on his previous starts, but is bound to shake it all off here and there is sufficient proof to suggest his best is yet to come, with this drop in class the perfect platform to return to the scoresheet.

Bhupat Seemar’s Southern Artist (Tadhg O’Shea) who has won his only start this term and, moreover, at this level, where he got the better of the progressive Tiger Nation by a half length in a mile contest at Meydan, is another worth having onside.

A four-year-old Munnings gelding, Southern Artist is two in three career starts and has a 1400m win in a maiden at Jebel Ali to further boost his claims for Seemar, who also saddles Laasudood (Jim Crowley), winner of a 1400m affair for Shadwell at Meydan in December. Laasudood has shown he has the stamina for longer when finishing two lengths adrift in a lofty 1600m Meydan handicap on a prior start.

Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Forest Falcon (Royston Ffrench) has shown improvement over his first two starts and it could be a case of third time lucky for the six-year-old Raven’s Pass gelding.

The rest of the card hosts Purebred Arabian events and comprises a pair of maidens, over 1700m (4:30pm) and 2000m (2:30pm), targeting four-year and older UAE Bred horses, while a handicap (0-65) is another that will be run over the 2000m strip (3pm).


Oertel mare holds strong claims

The highlight on the Purebred Arabian side of things is a 1700m handicap (0-75, 3:30pm) for runners aged four and above in which Ernst Oertel-trained six-year-old AF Albahar mare AF Mathakeel makes her debut at the track having shed her maiden tag in a 1400m run at Jebel Ali two starts ago. Thereafter second in a handicap on turf at Abu Dhabi, she might be the one to beat despite Jaber Bittar’s Zammam looking strong too having recently claimed a first-ever career success over the 2000m strip here.

Randa was fourth 12 months ago when representing Salem Al Ketbi’s yard, but since transferring to the care of Dennis O’Brien, the five-year-old Abu Alemarat mare has been successful in a 1400m event at Abu Dhabi.  

Oertel and Irfan Ellahi have strong hands in the 1200m 0-70 handicap for UAE Bred horses aged four and above (2pm) where AF Yakhtem and JAP Al Afreet stand out for the pair respectively having a brace of sprint wins each to boost their reputations.