AF Tharb sets new track record in Sharjah

With Saturday afternoon`s second meeting of the season from Sharjah sponsored by Porsche through Al Nabooda Automobiles, it was perhaps fitting that the Tony Manuel-trained AF Tharb sped to a new track record in the opening 1200m Purebred Arabian maiden.

Ridden by James Doyle, partnering his first ever winner in a Purebred Arabian contest, Manuel`s charge always looked to have things under control.

Doyle said: "He was always travelling very strongly and I was happy from a long way out. He quickened when I asked him to put the race to bed in a few strides. I only rode a few Purebred Arabians when in the UK and it is nice to open my account on them."

He promptly doubled the tally, with the intervention of the stewards, when AS Bahe was awarded the following race, also a 1200m maiden for Purebred Arabians.

The Doug Watson-trained Almajd was first-past-the-post under Tadhg O`Shea but they veered sharply across Doyle`s mount about 200m out, leaving the stewards with little option but to reverse the placings.

AS Bahe is also trained by Tony Manuel, as is BH One who then landed the following 2000m handicap under Harry Bentley to complete a great start to proceedings for Manuel who was saddling a second career treble.

Manuel said: "I really fancied a few of ours today so was hopeful of at least one, perhaps two, but to win the first three is more than we could have hoped for. I did get a treble at Abu Dhabi a few years ago but this is the first from my new base in Al Ain."

The official feature was the concluding 1200m handicap for Thoroughbreds and Doug Watson, who trains the unfortunate Almajd, gained some compensation when Dubai Set landed the spoils under Pat Cosgrave.

Watson said: "Almajd was unfortunate; it was his first start and he has just looked around when he hit the front. Obviously it is nice to get a winner on the board and Dubai Set ran very well on his seasonal debut over 1400m at Meydan. He struggled a bit last time but has coped well with the dirt this afternoon and it is nice for owner Malih Al Basti who also bred him."

The first of two Thoroughbred races was a 1700m maiden in which the Mubarak bin Shafya-trained Busker initiated a Cosgrave double.

Jaci Wickham and Richard Mullen combined to win a 1700m maiden with Yakoota W`Rsan, before Royston Ffrench steered Saifaldin Deeb`s Gabas Noor to victory in a handicap over the same 1700m.