Captain Rio cruises thoroughbred feature

Two Thoroughbred handicaps shared the billing at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon on a six race card generously sponsored by Al Basti Equiworld.

The first of them, over the minimum trip of 1000m, was won by the Satish Seemar-trained Captain Rio who was opening his UAE account at the 13th attempt and recording only his second career victory.

The six-year-old was ridden by Harry Bentley who said: "It has taken him a long while to open his account locally but he had run some good races in defeat in the UAE and he has clearly relished this first look at Sharjah. It was only his third career start at 1000m and he was quick from the off and just kept galloping. Hopefully this will have done his confidence good and maybe he can build on this, perhaps back at Sharjah if there is a suitable race."

The following 2000m handicap was the second for Thoroughbreds and Busker doubled his career winning tally by winning comfortably under Pat Cosgrave for his main employer Mubarak bin Shafya.

Cosgrave had been in the saddle when Busker opened his account in a 1700m maiden on this course in December and the winning jockey said: "He clearly likes it around here and this dirt surface really suits him. This was a far better race than the one he won before but that at least showed he likes here at Sharjah. It would be nice to think that we could find another race for him here and he has proved this longer trip is not a problem."

The best of the Purebred Arabian races was the concluding 1700m handicap and Almajd was delivered to land the spoils in the shadows of the post by Richard Hills who was riding for his main employer His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Trained by Doug Watson, Almajd has actually passed the post first in each of his four career starts but was demoted to second on his first start having caused interference.

He still looks immature and jockey Hills said: "He is a promising young horse who is learning all the time. It takes him a while to get going but he will battle for you when asked and I would like to think he has more to offer with extra experience."

Ted Durcan was the jockey in form, snaring a double courtesy of the Mohamed Al Ketbi-trained Mesk Al Reef in the opening 1200m maiden and As Satiaa in a 1700m maiden. The latter is trained by Tony Manuel.

Durcan said: "It has been a good afternoon and I arrived thinking I had a few reasonable chances but to get a double is probably more than I could realistically have hoped for."

A second 1200m maiden was won by Uba Al Mels who was never far off the pace under Royston Ffrench who was struggling to pull the four-year-old up after they had charged past the line. It was a good effort and delighted his trainer Mohd Ramadan who said: "He ran very well at Abu Dhabi on turf last time and I was hoping he would go close. He won well and I am obviously pleased."