29 October 2016, Sharjah, UAE ~ The most valuable race on Saturday’s Sharjah Racecourse card was the concluding 2000m handicap which saw UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea at his strongest to land the spoils aboard Purebred Arabian, Men Alemarat.
Four of the eight runners held every chance as they entered the final 200m of the race, but it was O’Shea aboard the Eric Lemartinel-trained Men Alemarat who prevailed in a thrilling closing stages battle with Ajjaj.
O’Shea, who had drawn a blank at Jebel Ali Racecourse the previous day, asked for maximum effort from Men Alemarat that responded gamely to lead close home, doubling his career win tally in the process.
“He ran some good races in defeat last season when he took on some top performers,” said O’Shea. “We knew he acted on the surface after a good third in HH The Ruler’s Trophy last year. He is a young horse and hopefully there is more to come.”
That win came after another visit to the winner’s enclosure for O’Shea 30 minutes earlier after the hard-fought victory of MH Areeb in the 1700m handicap. Trained by Elise Jeanne, it was a sixth career victory for MH Areeb and all bar one have come over this course and distance.
“It is great to get off the mark for the season,” said O’Shea. “I was actually pretty confident as I won on this horse at Al Ain last season and thought he was the best horse in the race. He is tough so I knew he would battle for me and hopefully plenty more winners will follow.”
Out of luck with 37 runners in his first campaign with a training license last season, Yousif bin Ghilan wasted no time opening his account this time and saddled Ya Hala to win the opening 1200m maiden.
Well away, the four-year-old filly, having her fourth career start, was soon blazing a trail under Jose Santiago and they were never headed. Clear of the rest with 400m left to travel, the filly started to tire in the final 200m but was always going to hold on with Laheeb Al Reef staying on for second.
Santiago, having his first mount of the new campaign, said: “She showed plenty of speed there and I was always happy. It is a great way to start the new season.”
Trainer Mohd Ramadan was enthusiastic as ever cheering on his Inthar who made all to lose his maiden tag in a 1200m handicap. On his seventh start, the six-year-old was having a second Sharjah outing and first since his debut in December of last year. His best earlier effort was a second over 1400m on the Abu Dhabi turf when partnered by the first time by Xavier Ziani who was again in the saddle here.
“We thought he could run well today,” said Ramadan. “He stays a bit further so we were happy to commit him from a long way out and he ran on well.” Second went to Es Deemha, while third was captured by Zameel W’Rsan.
A theme was being established on the straight course with debutante Areej Al Gharbia the third consecutive front-running winner. Trained by Helal Al Alawi, the filly showed plenty of early dash, before keeping on determinedly to deny Es Huboob from making a winning debut. Royston Ffrench was in the saddle while the pair established a new track record.
“She is a nice filly who will hopefully improve with this experience and should stay further,” said Al Alawi.
The only Thoroughbred contest on the card was a 1700m maiden and Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, saddled the first three home. Sam Hitchcott was keen to get to the front on Mathematics and was able to secure the rail position, so often favoured at Sharjah. Without seemingly exerting too much effort, the pair were able to enjoy a relatively easy lead before winding up the pace entering the home turn.