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Age No Bar At Sharjah

David Probert wins on Ma`eror W`rsan
Photo: Erika Rasmussen
(www.erikarphotography.com)

Old-timers back in the Winner’s Circle

PUREBRED ARABIAN veteran Ma’Eror W’Rsan bounced back to winning ways scoring in the keenly contested Longines Conquest Classic Handicap (2000m), the most valuable race at the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club’s meeting on Saturday afternoon.

Having his 38th career start the Jaci Wickham-trained ten-year-old was winning for the fourth time and first since December 2014 when successful over the same course and distance.

Ridden for the first time by David Probert, he was one of four runners holding a winning chance with just 200 metres to run and was able to pass Rabdan with about 100 metres left.

That rival fought back and with AL Waqqad also challenging it was always going to be close at the line with Probert’s mount able to cling on, a neck ahead of Rabdan with the same distance back to AL Waqqad.

“You always know you have a chance in these races when riding for Jaci,” said Probert. “It was quite hard work but the old horse has responded when I asked him and had enough left when they came back at him.”

Trained by Doug Watson with Paul Hanagan riding for his boss HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Moosir looked set to make a comfortable winning belated seasonal debut when cruising into contention in the only Thoroughbred race, the American University of Sharjah Handicap (1700m).

The pair hit the front at the 200 metres pole, looking set to quicken away from Lake Hawk, who had kicked clear on the home turn, but Hanagan’s mount, on his first outing since last March, seemed to find little.

With Lake Hawk fighting back under Tadhg O’Shea, Hanagan was forced to get serious, with his mount responding sufficiently to retain a narrow initiative all the way to the line.

It was a second career win for Moosir, on his 15th start and fifth locally for Watson.

“He has had to fight in the end,” said Hanagan. “He has been off a fair while and should improve for the run.
“He has not had that much racing, this was only his fifth United Arab Emirates (UAE) start and first at Sharjah. He has handled the surface well and the way he travelled he could probably cope with a drop back in trip.”

The meeting opened with the Al Qasimia University Maiden (1200m) and having enjoyed a double with horses he bred by his own sire, AF AL Buraq at the Al Ain meeting the previous evening, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda was back in the winner’s enclosure after the gutsy victory of AF Ssayeb.

It was a 20th winner of the season for the leading owner and breeder of UAE-bred horses.

Second on his racecourse debut, over 1400 metres at Al Ain, AF Ssayeb put that experience to good use and was always prominent in the centre of the track.

Ridden by Fernando Jara for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi, he had most of his 15 opponents beaten at halfway but Casablana, making a belated racecourse debut at the age of six, loomed large as a serious threat.

She actually hit the front as the straight track merged with the round course and briefly appeared the likely winner.

However, Jara’s mount responded to the urgings of his rider regaining the initiative 100 metres out and ultimately won going away.

“He was very game,” said Jara. “I was pretty happy in the first half of the race but the runner-up looked to be going strongly when she passed us.
“My horse has responded well though and should have more to offer.”

That race was restricted to horses foaled in the UAE whereas the following Longines Dolce Vita Maiden (1200m) was open to all and also attracted a full field of 16.

As it transpired, only two horses ever realistically held a winning chance with the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Jinad leading on the far side under Freddy Tylicki.

He soon burned off all rivals on that side of the track and it was left to Tadhg O’Shea and Firdos to throw down the only challenge.

They had led the nearside group and were clear of that bunch at halfway when O’Shea took him across to grapple with Jinad.

As hard as they tried, they were never able to get on terms, with Jinad still a neck ahead at the line.

It was a case of third time lucky for the winner who had been well beaten on both previous attempts but was racing at Sharjah and over 1200 metres for the first time

“He has shown natural speed today,” said Tylicki. “The drop in trip and straight track has really suited him.”

A third maiden, the University of Sharjah, this time over 2000m, was won by Amer Al Reef, ridden by Dane O’Neill for trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi, and opening his account at the sixth attempt.

After four 1200 metres outings, he was noted staying on strongly over 1600 metres on his previous start and appreciated this further step up in trip.

“The trainer was pretty confident,” said O’Neill. “I do not know how strong a race it was but he has seen it out gamely.”

Fresh from a double at Al Ain on Friday, Helal Al Alawi saddled his 18th winner of a fruitful campaign with the smooth success of Royston Ffrench and Ameer Al Sraya in the concluding Longines Master Collection Handicap (1700m).

Another ten-year-old winner on the card, he was registering a fifth career win, all on the Sharjah dirt, on his 57th outing.