Tadhg O’Shea rides AF Maqam to victory in the Ruler of Sharjah Cup at the Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Sunday.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Sunday’s final meeting of the Sharjah Longines Racecourse season was highlighted by the track’s most valuable race of the season, the Dhs250,000 His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah Cup, a Prestige contest over 1700m and AF Maqam scored a gutsy victory under Tadhg O’Shea.
Having just his fifth career start, in a contest restricted to 4yos and 5yos born in the UAE, the Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda homebred trained by Ernst Oertel, hit the front in the final 200m but had to dig deep to deny challenges from Yas Xmnsor and Hakaam.
Nabboda’s 4yo colt was doubling his career tally and adding this success to that he registered in a 1200m Jebel Ali maiden on just his second start, in November.
In the colours of his main employer, Al Nabooda, O’Shea had earlier delivered AF Yenomes to lead right on the line in a 1200m handicap for Oertel.
Previously a maiden, the 5yo homebred was having just his seventh career start and had managed a second, a third and two fourth place outings in a career that only started at the beginning of this season, in the middle of November.
Despite starting slowly, JAP Haddad ran out the convincing winner of the opening 1200m maiden for horses foaled in the UAE, Royston Ffrench in the saddle for Irfan Ellahi and Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.
Given time to find his stride, once in a rhythm the homebred 6yo made good progress to chase the leaders before surging clear just after halfway.
Previously runner-up four times, including both his most recent outings, it was a deserved success on his 11th start.
Only seven went to post for a second 1200m handicap, this one restricted to horses foaled locally, in which Bernardo Pinheiro and Najem Al Rwasi were probably never headed for Ahmed Aamer Al Shemeili in the silks of Ahmed Ebrahim bin Aamer Al Shemeili.
Now an 8yo, the entire horse was winning for the third time, all at Sharjah over this 1200m, but tasting success for the first time since December 2020.
The finale, the Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap, witnessed a seemingly inspired effort from Pinheiro aboard Sufyan for Yas Racing and Majed Al Jahoori. Drawn widest of all in stall 13, the jockey raced alone on the nearside rail for about 500m before crossing across to join the others.
It was clear from fully 800m out that, barring a stamina collapse, the pair were not going to be caught.
The only Thoroughbred contest, a 2000m handicap, was turned into a procession by Ray Dawson and Stay Thinking, the pair storming clear leaving the home turn into the short straight for Ahmad Bin Harmash and Abdul Ghalita Almheiri, leaving 11 toiling rivals a long way behind.
A 5yo gelded son of Alhebayeb, he was having just his second start for current connections having weakened quickly over 1950m up the Jebel Ali hill on his local debut.
Now an 8-year-old, after 20 starts he has won just once, his final appearance in his native France, over 1,700m on turf, in July 2018. He joined Mohd Ramadan, making a very pleasing local debut in a conditions race over the same 2,000m as Friday’s race.
The Abu Dhabi turf played host to six races on Sunday and UAE champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea landed four consecutive races for a memorable four-timer, including doubles for both Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel.
Racing at Meydan on Thursday features a Stakes race apiece for both the Purebred Arabians and the Thoroughbreds, the latter, the Listed Dubai Creek Mile the most valuable race on the card and attracting a field of 11, including last year’s winner, Thegreatcollection.
Over 1200m on dirt, the surface on which the whole card was staged due to issues with the turf track caused by inclement weather, it was contested by a select sextet but, having raced in the rear, O’Shea took aim at the other five leaving the home turn and found a willing partner.
The committee directed the referees to allow any Muslim player to break the fast during the evening matches during the month of Ramadan.
Lions Led by Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan's breezy half-centuries Asian Lions scored an emphatic seven-wicket victory with 23 balls to spare.
The Team Games Co. in Hatta Sports Club organizes the championship, held annually during the Holy Month of Ramadan, with the support of Dubai Sports Council.