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Harmash in Treble Form at Jebel Ali

Sharpalo wins the feature under Antonio Fresu
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

The featured 1800m conditions race at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon was won in style by Sharpalo, one of three winners on the card for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash.

Unraced in the UAE before this season, having won once in France, Sharpalo was fourth at Meydan Racecourse before an excellent second to Insaany, over this 1800m course and distance, a fortnight ago.

This looked a tougher task on paper but, given a confident ride by Antonio Fresu, he looked to have matters under control after hitting the front fully 600m from home.

Those in behind soon looked in trouble and none were able to throw down a telling challenge.

“He ran very well last time and has improved for each run,” said Bin Harmash. “This was a very good performance in what looked a strong race and hopefully he can progress again.”

For the trainer it was a quick double after the victory of Tides Rise in a 1600m handicap under an unexpected jockey: Paolo Sirgu was about to go home after his UAE career begun with a late withdrawal of intended mount, Hundred Steps, in the opening 1400m handicap but was given a late call to ride Tides Rise.

He took full advantage of the opportunity and was able to drive his mount to a narrow success in a three way photo making his second local mount a winning one.

“The right place at the right time,” joked Sirgu. “I was packing up to leave and suddenly this spare ride became available. The trainer told me he was a straightforward, game battling type of horse and he proved that in a very close finish.”

The trainer wasted little time in making it three consecutive victories on the card with the impressive winning debut of Al Barez, the only two-year-old in the field for a 1400m maiden.
Dane O’Neill, retained jockey for the winner’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, did not panic when the youngster was slowly into stride and the pair were quickly travelling nicely in midfield.

Shortly after halfway, O’Neill asked his mount to challenge and the response, although not electric, was telling and they hit the front 200m from home and won in style.

“He travelled pretty well but was a bit green,” said O’Neill. “He is a very willing little horse with a great attitude. I am not sure where he will go next but he has started his career in great fashion.”

Owner and jockey then doubled up with the smooth victory of Mushir in what had appeared an ultra competitive 1200m handicap. Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, Mushir had won a 1000m course handicap emphatically at the first meeting of the season four weeks ago and is clearly in great heart.

O’Neill, who had a choice of four Sheikh Hamdan runners, said: “It is never easy to make these choices so it is nice to have made the right decision and he has won that well.”

Having completed his National Service, local apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei is flying this season and made it five winners from 19 rides when making all aboard Najm Suhail in the opening 1400m handicap.

Quickly away, Najm Suhail went straight to the front and hardly saw any of his 13 rivals, skipping clear 300m from home to win easily.

The winner is trained by the apprentice’s main employer, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi as was the runner-up, Lake Hawk, the mount of stable jockey, Tadhg O’ Shea.

“It was the perfect result for the yard,” said Al Mazrooei. “My horse has plenty of speed and was always enjoying himself out in front. From halfway I knew we would be hard to beat and he ran on very well.”

For Najm Suhail, it was a second career win but first in the UAE, on his 30th local outing.

The meeting concluded with a 1000m handicap and UAE Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, saddled the winner in the shape of Indescribable, the mount of Pat Dobbs, his stable jockey.