Sharjah: A field of 13 runners will contest the Sharjah Sports Handicap, the feature race of the first meeting of the season at the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club on Saturday.
The weights, headed by Paranormal to be partnered by Pat Dobbs, riding for his main employer, the Champion Trainer, Doug Watson.
Formerly with Godolphin, he raced just once for them in England and made a very pleasing local debut when, at Sharjah, he was second in a 1700m maiden.
Three outings later, back on this course, he lost that maiden tag when successful in a 1200m handicap, and as a four-year-old who has made only six career starts, he looks the type of young horse who can progress this season.
Watson said: “He is fit, well and ready for a run so we thought this looked a good opportunity. His best runs have been when racing prominently and we think he will cope with the shorter trip.”
Ahmad Bin Harmash saddles a pair of three-year-olds for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum — Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, with jockey bookings implying Al Abyad, the mount of Connor Beasley, is considered a more likely winner than Sabegg who will be partnered by Royston Ffrench.
“They have only had seven runs between them and, we hope have more to offer this season,” said Bin Harmash. “Our horses mostly ran well last week so, hopefully, that can continue.”
Pat Cosgrave won on Shillong for Helal Al Alawi and The Byerley Team at Jebel Ali last Friday and the trio combine here with Logistics. Winner once, from 12 starts, that victory last December was more than 1200m here at Sharjah and he should run well.
Also successful over the Sharjah 1200m, albeit in December 2010, is the veteran, Montmorency, 11-years-old and a great servant over the years to Satish Seemar.
The mount of Richard Mullen, he was a 1,000m Al Ain winner last December and should produce his usual, honest effort.
He was chased home on that occasion by Intermedium, back in opposition with Tadhg O’Shea riding for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
O’Shea said: “He is working well enough at home. It looks a tough race but hopefully he will be competitive.”
Gopi Selvaratnam, the new trainer at Jebel Ali Stables, relies on War Spirit for Mohammad Saeed Al Shahi, the new racing manager for Selvaratnam’s main employer, Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Head of Dubai Police and Public Security.
Thrice a winner, all over this 1000m trip on turf, he was third, only a length behind the winner Paranormal, in the aforementioned 1200m course handicap when last seen in March and may relish this return to the minimum trip.
A 1,700m handicap is the best of the Purebred Arabian action and Elise Jeanne appears to have two live hopes in the form of MH Lazzaz and MH Kanz.
Each of her pair were Sharjah winners last December, MH Lazzaz, over 1200m, while MH Kanz was a course and distance winner.
Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel were responsible for four entries so it must be significant they elect to run just AF Kafu, the mount of Antonio Fresu.
He remains a maiden after seven starts, while Hawafez has also yet to win, after nine runs, but represents the powerful combination of Eric Lemartinel and his main patron, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE.
Tadhg O’Shea rides and said: “He seems in good form and we are hoping trying this longer trip will be in his favour.”