Sharjah Back On Track

Smalah course winner last time out
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (

Six race Saturday action

THE SHARJAH EQUESTRIAN AND RACING CLUB returns to the United Arab Emirates racing circuit on Saturday staging their first meeting since the beginning of December.

The most valuable race on the card is the Longines Conquest Classic Handicap (2000m) for Purebred Arabians with 13 declared, including Smalah and Rabdan who are 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 favour.

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 though, whereas the Helal Al Alawi-trained Al Waqqad won over the distance at Al Ain six weeks ago.

Apprentice Hector Crouch, who won on the horse over 1600 metres on the same course a week before his 2000 metres success under fellow apprentice George Buckell takes the ride.

“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.”

He has also won at Sharjah, dead-heating over 1700 metres in March 2013 when joining MH Areeb right on the line.

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 the mount of Royston Ffrench.

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.”

The owner’s first jockey, Paul Hanagan rides and the trio also combine with Moosir in the America University of Sharjah Handicap (1700m) the only Thoroughbred race on the card.

He is making a belated seasonal debut after a good second on his final start of the lastest campaign, at Al Ain over 1600m.

Owner and trainer are also represented by Marching Time, the mount of Dane O’Neill who is also retained by Sheikh Hamdan.

An admirable performer since joining Watson in 2010, he has yet to win on dirt and has not scored since November 2011 but this looks the easiest opportunity he has faced in a long time.

Erwan Charpy would also appear to saddle two live chances with stable jockey David Probert riding Fa’Iz and apprentice Marc Monaghan aboard Tadmir.

The latter won a 2000 metres Sharjah handicap in December and with the benefit of Monaghan’s apprentice claim for his return to this track could be a big danger to all.

Crouch rides Sky Jockey for Satish Seemar and he too appears to hold serious claims having finished a close to second to Brabbham, an impressive Meydan winner on Thursday, on his penultimate start.