Al Mufham SB, ridden by Al Moatasem Al Balushi, races towards the finish line to win Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup.
The final meeting of the Sharjah Longines Racecourse season on Saturday was highlighted by Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup, a 1700m Prestige handicap which produced a grandstand finish with Al Mufham SB snatching the spoils in the dying strides.
In doing so, he thwarted AF Ramz who himself only led for about 50m having finally found a way past early leader Hazeem Al Raed who had valiantly fought off numerous challengers.
Partnered by Al Moatasem Al Balushi, the winner is trained in Oman by Badar Al Hajri, opening his UAE account at just the second attempt having saddled this horse to finish tenth in the Arabian Triple Crown a month ago, the horse’s sole turf appearance. It was also a first UAE winner for owner Saad Bin Suhail Salim Bahwan whose silks had not tasted a local victory in 35 previous attempts.
The 4-year-old colt has now won four of his six dirt outings, adding this to a trio of victories in Muscat.
The jockey then combined with Helal Alalawi to land the final race of the Sharjah campaign the Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap, with Asraa Min Al Talqa, producing the 7-year-old entire to lead close home.
Owned by Forta Stud, the horse was doubling his career tally on his sixth UAE outing having previously landed a 1600m conditions race in Britain on the Chelmsford all-weather back in June 2018. He had not managed to finish in the first three in four previous dirt outings, or six on turf for that matter, that Chelmsford success being the only time he was in the major placings.
The meeting kicked off with a 1000m handicap for horses foaled in the UAE which developed into a duel over the final 400m between early leader AF Thayer and top weight Dhafra, conceding weight to all her nine rivals. The latter and Antonio Fresu hit the front with about 325 remaining, but Tadhg O’Shea and AF Thayer fought all the way to the line, ultimately to no avail.
Trained by Eric Lemartinel, the 5-year-old mare was a first winner to carry the colours of Sheikh Mohd bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, celebrating success with just his eighth runner, all this season.
Also for those born locally, a 2000m maiden also went to Fresu and Lemartinel with Al Ajayib prevailing in a thrilling finish for UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A 4-year-old filly, she was making her seventh start having finished a close fourth, on her only previous visit to Sharjah in a 1700m maiden in December, as her best finish. Half of the dozen runners were in contention entering the final 200m when AF Al Abadee was headed by AF Solf who appeared the likely winner only to be thwarted in the final strides with Fresu delivering his challenge with impeccable timing.
Again restricted to horses foaled locally, a 1700m handicap looked ultra-competitive on paper with a capacity field of 16 facing the starter, but it was ultimately won easily by Ashtr, previously a maiden after 12 racecourse appearances. Saddled by Majed Al Jahoori, the Al Wathba Racing homebred 5-year-old entire made a mockery of that statistic, hitting the front entering the short Sharjah straight and storming clear under apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi. His ten previous dirt outings had included a pair of seconds and a third, so it was not a total shock he finally managed to get his head in front.
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