6 January 2018, Sharjah, UAE ~ The best was saved to last at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon, 6 January, when the featured 1700m handicap, the final of six races, produced a thrilling finish with the first three home just a neck apart. In the end it was Bougedelah snatching the spoils close to home.
Entering the short Sharjah straight, long time leader Delishess cried enough and was pounced on by Bainoon, keeping a brief lead, and Dassan Da, in front with 200m to run. Gerald Avranche and Bainoona fought back with neither of the pair relinquishing a stride towards the finish when Pat Dobbs and Bougedelah, trained by Doug Watson, suddenly appeared on the scene.
Dassan Da and Pat Cosgrave looked to have the race won despite Bainoona’s persistent challenge, only for Dobbs’ mount to dash between the pair and land the prize. A maiden before the race after nine starts, five locally, Bougedelah (Munjiz x Munjiz x Santale) was having his first start since late November and Watson explained: “We gelded him six weeks ago after his last run because he has always worked like a decent horse but was not showing it on the track. Pat has given him a great ride and it was nice to see him go past horses and now that he has put his head in front, hopefully he can progress.”</em
Fifteen went to post for the opening 1200m handicap but only one had the race in the bag as Baariz (Seraphin Du Paon), previously a maiden after three starts, was soon in front and clear at halfway and never in any danger. Representing the Al Asayl team, Tadhg O’Shea, sporting the silks of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, never had a moment’s concern posting an easy victory on the Eric Lemartinel-trained winner.
Third on debut on this course over 1000m, he subsequently had two starts on the Abu Dhabi turf and clearly relished the return to these shorter conditions. O’Shea said: “He ran very well first time here at Sharjah over 1000m, so we knew the track suited him and were confident the trip would also after two runs over further distance at Abu Dhabi. Obviously Abu Dhabi is turf and I think this dirt surface suits him a lot better.
“This looked an open race but I had plenty of confidence in my horse’s ability so was happy to be positive on him. He is not complicated so I let him stride on and he did the job well.”
The following 1200m maiden was won in determined fashion by Qanoon making it third time lucky after two promising previous outings and providing trainer Irfan Ellahi a first winner of the season. Off the track since November 2015, when fourth in a 1000m Sharjah maiden, Qanoon returned four weeks ago when filling the same berth in a 1400m maiden on the Abu Dhabi turf and showed the benefit of that outing.
Never far off the pace under Royston Ffrench, sporting the predominantly green silks of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, he showed a determined attitude when asked, hitting the front inside the final 300m and staying on well. Ffrench said: “All credit to the trainer who has produced the horse in great form and in perfect condition to win his race. The team were pretty confident beforehand and the horse has justified that in style.”
Owner and trainer completed a double courtesy of JAP Yajoud (AF Maqam Alezz) winning a 1700m maiden with Sam Hitchcott in the saddle on just his second start having run at Al Ain in November. Not for the first time on the card, those racing prominently dominated and Hitchcott drove his mount past long time leader Farrar, halfway up the straight with the pair well clear. Ellahi said: “It has been a great afternoon and our horses have always seemed to go particularly well here at Sharjah.”
The only Thoroughbred race on the card, a handicap, was also over 1200m, and the spoils went to Green Stables with Antonio Fresu producing Pinter, owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohd Al Maktoum, to lead close home for Erwan Charpy. A winner once in five starts for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby in England, this was the horse’s second career win, achieved on his seventh UAE outing.
British Champion Jockey Silvestre de Sousa, made every post a winning aboard AF Kafu in a 2000m handicap, gradually increasing the tempo throughout the final circuit. Seemingly about to be swamped on several occasions, the AL Buraq 5-yr-old trained by Ernst Oertel, responded every time his jockey asked for more. Homebred by Champion UAE Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, AF Kafu has now emerged victorious in two of his three starts this season, all at Sharjah, having won a 1700m maiden in November on his eighth career start. He was then second six weeks later over 2000m when headed close home but made amends here in style.
Oertel said: “This horse likes it here at Sharjah and, is hopefully, improving. Antonio Fresu could have ridden him but chose to ride our other horse, AF Al Baher, who was third and also ran well. It is never easy for the jockeys to choose but we were able to get Silvestre who has given him a great ride from the front.”