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Swwing Swoops to Sharjah Victory

Swwing heads a close finish
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

The featured 2000m handicap at Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club on Saturday afternoon was won by Swwing, trained by Tony Manuel for owner, Ali Haddad.

Ridden by Sam Hitchcott to hard-fought victory, Swwing was actually losing his maiden tag in the process, at the 22nd attempt and on his 21st appearance in the UAE. Settled in midfield by Hitchcott, Swwing looked the winner at the top of the straight but perhaps, initially, did not find as much for pressure as his jockey would have hoped.

Yet they asserted themselves in the final 100m to provide both owner and trainer with their first victories of the season.

“He is a good horse but we just have not been able to get his head in front,” said Haddad. “Hopefully he has now won he will do so again.

“Most of my good horses retired so I have not had many winners lately but hopefully this is a good sign going forward.”

Just 30 minutes later, and over the same 2000m, Tadhg O’Shea was able to demonstrate just why he is UAE Champion Jockey with an impeccable effort aboard Skygazer.

Stable jockey for Skygazer’s trainer, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, Sharjah has proved a happy hunting ground for O’Shea in recent seasons and he produced a master class here. Well away, he jumped Skygazer straight to the head of affairs and they were never headed.

At least six lengths clear at halfway, O’Shea allowed his mount to ‘have a breather’ when the rest of the filed closed but, 400m out, the jockey kicked for home and the race was over.

“I won on this horse over 2000m at Al Ain last season which was his only previous start at the trip,” said O’Shea. “Stamina was never an issue so I was always going to be positive on him. He found plenty when I asked him and it was a good effort.”

Al Rayhi added: “That was a very good performance by both horse and jockey.”

As is so often the case on the straight rack at Sharjah, racing on the early pace proved the tactic to take in the opening 1200m fillies and mares’ maiden with the winner, AF Al Mawhebah and runner-up, Es Almas, dominating throughout.

The latter may well have won had she not veered across the track 300m from home, forfeiting the lead and valuable ground in the process. Meanwhile, AF Al Mawhebah was running straight as an arrow down the centre to, finally, win cosily under Paolo Sirigu.

Winning trainer, Mohd Ramadan, was delighted and said: “She had been going nicely at home so we thought she would run well. She did it nicely and hopefully will progress.”

It was the only ride on the card for the jockey who now boasts the enviable statistics of three rides in the UAE for two winners and a second.

The tactic of racing prominently was further endorsed in the following 1200m maiden in which Richard Mullen and AF Maher were probably never headed to provide another winner for trainer Ernst Oertel.

Homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, AF Maher was making a winning debut and Oertel said: “We were pretty hopeful as he has shown plenty at home. That was a great start for the horse and we have some really nice horses for Mr Al Nabooda who deserves this ongoing success he is enjoying.”

A distinct pattern was forming after a third 1200m maiden was won by Yaa Salam who led all the way under Pat Dobbs and was chased throughout by runner-up, Yalap Al Naif.

Having just his second start, the winner had clearly learned a lot from his initial outing, over the same course and distance, when he was well beaten a month ago.

It was a second winner, both this season, as a trainer for Yousif bin Ghilan who said: “The plan was to be positive and it worked out well. Hopefully he will have more to offer as he gains racing experience.”

The finale, a 1700m handicap, produced an exciting finish with Mor’Eb leading where it mattered for trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi and jockey Szczepan Mazur.