Sharjah returns to the UAE racing circuit on Saturday, staging their first meeting since the beginning of December, 2015
26 February 2016, Sharjah, UAE ~ The most valuable race on Saturday’s card is the Longines Conquest Classic Handicap (2000m) for Purebred Arabians. There are 13 declared including Smalah and Rabdan both trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Smalah is the choice of Tadhg O’Shea, with apprentice Nicolas Barzalona aboard Rabdan.
Twice a winner on dirt, both times this season, once over this course and distance as well as 1400 metres at Al Ain, Smalah would appear to have a lot in her favor. Rabdan has also recorded both his career victories on dirt, both over 2000 metres at Al Ain in January 2015.
“Both the yard’s runners should go well,” said O’Shea. “They are proven over the trip but Smalah has won at Sharjah which helped me choose her. It is an open race but, hopefully, both will go close.”
Madjanthis heads the weights, with apprentice Manuel Fernandes riding for Ernst Oertel. A 1200 metres winner on the Abu Dhabi turf in December, that was his first UAE victory, though he did win once on dirt in his native USA. He needs to prove his stamina for this extra trip however.
Hector Crouch takes the ride on the Helal Al Alawi-trained Al Waqqad, winner over this distance at Al Ain six weeks ago.
“He is tough, genuine and versatile,” said Crouch. “The trainer is in good form and he should run his usual solid race in a competitive looking contest.”
One of two in this race for trainer Elise Jeanne, MH Areeb, the mount of Buckell, has won four times since, twice at Sharjah, twice at Al Ain. He is joined in the field by stable companion MH Samurai under Royston Ffrench.
Oldest of the group at 11, Fantastique MHF, trained by Doug Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has five victories to his name, all at Sharjah. He has not won since November 2014 but has been off for six weeks and has a good record fresh.
“He seems to save his best for Sharjah,” said Watson. “He is in good form and can, hopefully, run well.”