Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, Sultan Mohammed Khalifa Al Yahyaee, Mohamed Al Ahmed with winning connections during the presentation for Emirates Sprint Series.
Eastern World, a Dubawi gelding trained by Ahmad Bin Harmash, won the HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup as the Emirates Sprint Series kicked off in an exhilarating fashion at the Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Sunday.
The 1200m contest witnessed a captivating display of speed as Eastern World under jockey Gabriele Malune, the 2022 Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal winner, surged ahead, denying Bhupat Seemar’s Tuz, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, a narrow victory.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, Director-General of Emirates Racing Authority, attended the races and gave away the prizes,
Mohammed Ahmed Al Subousi's horse crossed the finish line with a commanding one-length advantage, while last year’s Emirates Sprint Series champion, Road Bloc, ridden by Osama Refai and Oscar Chavez, secured third place, a distant seven and three-quarters of a length behind.
The Emirates Sprint Series, a captivating spectacle of speed, was launched last season on the directives of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the patron of Jebel Ali Racecourse.
Delighted with the success of the series opener, Mohamed Al Ahmed, Executive Director of Emirates Sprint Series and General Manager of Jebel Ali Racecourse, said: "It's a great result for the HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup and series opener. All three top finishers are above 100 rated which is a true achievement to see group-level rated horses competing in the Emirates Sprint Series.
“The quality of the horse to which the opening leg attracted is a testimony to how successful the Emirates Sprint Series is emerging.
“Under Sheikh Ahmed's visionary guidance, the Emirates Sprint Series has been blossoming into a cornerstone of the UAE's horse racing scene.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here in Sharjah. Collaboration between us dates back many years. We were glad to sponsor the HH the Crown Prince of Sharjah festival day and cup here in Sharjah.
This triumph solidified Eastern World’s position as a frontrunner in the Emirates Sprint Series, with the next two legs set to take place at Jebel Ali and Meydan Racecourse.
Sultan Mohammed Khalifa Al Yahyaee, Director of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, said: "We are very happy that we hosted the series opener, and I wish them all the success for the remaining leg. Sharjah and Jebel Ali racecourses share a great rapport and have a long-term association.
“We're all trying to put on the greatest races possible and help the owners and trainers find the ones that work best for them. We hope to have more races in collaboration with Jebel Ali Racecoouse in the near future,” he added.
HH Crown Prince of Sharjah Cup, another feature of the six-race card, was won by Majed Al Jahoori’s Bassam Al Wathba. He finished with a length and a quarter lead over Al Zafy.
Barghash, ridden by Connor Beasley for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, finished third, a further length behind.
Beasley made headlines with a double win on the undercard. His first triumph came in the Al Ferdous Cup 1700m maiden aboard Jawhar, narrowly defeating Jaber Bittar’s Game Time ridden by Abdul Aziz Al Balushi. Beasley concluded his successful afternoon by guiding Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Majdi to victory in the Palma Spring Cup 2000m handicap (0-80), winning by a length and a quarter from Taajer (ridden by Dennis O’Brien/Richard Mullen).
Royston Ffrench secured the win by guiding Irfan Ellahi’s JAP Awqat to victory in the Dubai Creek Tower Cup 1200m maiden. The pair dominated the race, leaving second-placed Rasikh Al Wathba nearly seven lengths behind Jean-Claude Pecout and Ryan Curatolo.
Frenchman Pecout might have been denied in the opener, but he made a winning return in the subsequent Al Yasmmeen Cup, another 1200m maiden, where Nahla Al Wathba, guided expertly by Adrie de Vries, held on to victory by a short head in a race that saw his Jahoori-trained Al Wathba Racing stablemate Shurooq Al Wathba take second under Bernardo Pinheiro.
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The season opener at Sharjah showcased the Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup and the feature produced a finish worthy of its prominence on the card when a brilliant effort in the saddle from Sam Hitchcott aboard Eyjabi secured a first victory as trainer for Dennis O’Brien.
“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.
The four-day event, a highlight of the Sharjah Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club season calendar, was held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
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