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Racing returns to Sharjah on Saturday

Al Basti Equiworld sponsors Saturday afternoon`s card Sharjah when the Thoroughbreds take centre stage with two competitive handicaps worth AED75,000 highlighting the six race card.

The first of these is a 1000m dash and Doug Watson trains Firstknight who won well at Jebel Ali last week over the same trip.

Assuming he handles this slightly different dirt surface he should go well under Tadhg O`Shea and can confirm the form with runner-up Nanni The Teaser.

Dubai Set, also trained by Watson is owned by the sponsor and will be ridden by Pat Cosgrave as he was when winning over 1200m on this course in December, while stable companion Dan Chillingworth has been one of the most consistent horses in training and looks certain to run his normal solid race.

Last season`s champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe also has a strong hand and Richard Hills is in the saddle on Serhaal who has been in good form recently and cannot be discounted, while stable companion Dhabyani Dream should certainly not be discounted under Royston Ffrench.

Musabah Al Muhairi`s horses have been running well in recent weeks and stable jockey Wayne Smith rides Home Office who looks a big danger.

Smith, last season`s champion jockey, said: "His best run locally was over 1000m so hopefully returning to the trip will help him. It looks a wide open race but he should have a chance."

The Rashed Bouresly duo of Tropical Blue and Pastel Blue are others to consider having run well on the course in the past.

The following Thoroughbred handicap is over 2000m and several course regulars feature among the 16 declared.

Al Muhairi and Smith again combine, this time with Bin Shamardal who is seeking his third course and distance victory this season.
Smith said: "The handicapper has obviously put him up in the weights which makes life harder but he remains in great form and should run well in a tough race."

Watson`s Florentine Ruler, also owned by the afternoon`s sponsor, has finished second and third behind Smith`s mount on his last two visits here and looks a nice spare ride for Ted Durcan.

Jockey Tadhg O`Shea chooses to partner Champagne Style who was only sixth on his sole course start, behind several of today`s opponents, but hampered at a crucial stage.

That race was won by Bin Shamardal, with Florentine Ruler second and another Watson runner, Gulf of Gold, fourth.

The last named is regarded as a course specialist and it looks significant that O`Shea elects to ride Champagne Style with Shane Foley getting the ride on Gulf Of Gold.

Foley`s mount won a 1700m handicap here from Shahin Shah, the mount of Mirco Demuro, in November when Shafgaan was third.

Al Raihe saddles Shafgaan but stable jockey Ffrench elects to ride stable companion Jamhoori.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is the concluding 1700m handicap and Ffrench`s mount, Ajdal, looks an interesting contender representing the Royal Cavalry of Oman.

He shares top-weight with Barolo, proven on the track and Raheq who showed promise on his sole start on dirt on his local debut in December.

However, Almajd looks the most likely winner for Watson with Richard Hills in the saddle.