Riders compete during a championship. File
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Sharjah Longines Racecourse will host the second meeting of their season on Saturday, highlighted by one of the track’s two main Thoroughbred races of the campaign, the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, for which the maximum allowed field of 16 will face the starter.
A 1700m handicap introduced to the calendar in 2018, that inaugural running was won by Bois De Boulogne, trained at the time by Sandeep Jadhav. The 6-year-old Street Cry entirely won twice more that season, over 1950m in January 2019, but was out of luck last season, running in the name of Salem Bin Ghadayer. Still owned by Ahmad Ghalita Almheiri, Saturday will be his first start for Mahmood Hussain and with Bernardo Pinheiro in the saddle.
Hailing the support of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sultan Mohammed Khalifa Al Yahyaee, General Manager of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, said: “It is a competitive card with six races and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, the only Thoroughbred contest being the highlight of the meeting.
“The feature has attracted a quality field. Sharjah Longines Racecourse will miss the atmosphere that has turned racing here into a very family affair, but the Covid-19 restrictions in place the fans have to follow the meeting live through Sharjah Sports channel and other social media platforms,” Yahyaee added.
Brazilian Pinheiro, who celebrated an Al Ain treble last weekend as well as winning the Group 2 Bani Yas at Meydan, said: “Obviously last weekend was a special one and hopefully I can continue a good run of form. I rode a winner for the trainer at Al Ain and Bois De Boulogne has proved he likes it at Sharjah. Hopefully he can run well, but it looks like a very strong race.”
Pat Cosgrave partners the unbeaten Mystery Land for Helal Al Alawi, the 4-year-old having won both career starts to date, over 1400m at Jebel Ali on each occasion. A gelded son of Sea The Stars and the only horse to have carried the colours of Bandar Muwisan Al Otaibi, he was partnered by Fabrice Veron when winning on debut in March, but Cosgrave was in the saddle when he made a winning return a month ago.
Cosgrave said: “He was impressive the last day, but did only have three rivals. Saturday’s race is going to be a totally different test with more runners and away from the Jebel Ali straight track for the first time in a race.”
Philosopher landed the prize last year, saddled by Salem bin Ghadayer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum. The 8-year-old Shamardal gelding is currently second reserve, but owner and trainer do have Untold Secret guaranteed a place in this year’s field.
Another 8-year-old gelded son of Shamardal, Royston Ffrench is due to partner him. He beat three rivals over 1600m at Jebel Ali on his final start last season and was back in the winner’s enclosure, at the same venue a fortnight ago, when defeating stable companion Tailor’s Row over 1950m. The latter is first reserve, ahead of Philosopher, on Saturday.
Fifth in that Jebel Ali contest two weeks ago was Right Flank, one of six in this race for Doug Watson. Owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), Right Flank will be ridden by Ryan Curatolo with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, choosing to partner Golden Goal who will attempt to concede weight to his 15 rivals and they will hope go two places better than last year when they were third.
Also based at Red Stables with Watson, Sam Hitchcott is aboard Trenchard with the American handler also calling on UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea, young apprentice Nathan Crosse and Sando Paiva. They ride Big Brown Bear, Galvanize and Native Appeal respectively.
Watson said: “We have to be hopeful with a nice bunch aiming at a good prize. Golden Goal probably is the main hope, but I would not be surprised if any of the other five came out on top.”
Given the name of the race, a Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE’s Minister of Finance, winner would be appropriate and he has four chances, retained jockey Dane O’Neill siding with Dalaalaat for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
For the same owner, Connor Beasley rides the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Karnavaal with the other pair due to carry the blue and white silks both to be saddled by Erwan Charpy. His stable jockey, Clement Lecoeuvre, is aboard Tadbir with fellow French compatriot Fabrice Veron picking up the spare ride on Akwaan.
In a truly competitive heat, Irish Freedom is another who arrives having won his latest outing, in his case a 1400m handicap on the Abu Dhabi turf. Stable jockey Richard Mullen is again in the saddle for Satish Seemar and the 6-year-old did win on dirt, over 1800m, at Churchill Downs in June 2018.
Held under the supervision of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation (UAEERF), this two-day event will be the first of three nationals held in Sharjah. For the remainder of the season, the shows will be held in the club’s indoor and outdoor arenas.
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