Captain Rio In Commanding Form Ahead Of Sharjah Thoroughbred Contest

The only Thoroughbred race at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon is a 1200m handicap which has attracted the maximum field of 16.

Captain Rio was a course and distance winner for Satish Seemar in February and jockey Richard Mullen said: “Course form is always a bonus at Sharjah and he won his only previous start here. He has had two runs already this season so fitness is not an issue. It is a big field but he has proved he can handle that as well as the underfoot conditions.”

Dhabyani Dream, second to Captain Rio last season, is again in opposition as are several others including Serhaal (fourth), Dubai Set (sixth) and Firstknight (seventh). All look capable of a big run in another ultra competitive field.

It is a case of saving the best Purebred Arabian action to last with the concluding 1700m handicap the undoubted highlight of a six race card. Sixteen have been declared and it looks wide open with four of the runners having already won this season, including three on this course.

JAP Mersal won a course and distance maiden two weeks ago when supplying trainer Irfan Ellahi with his first winner in almost five years. He made all on that occasion under David Smith who retains the partnership and explained: “We had been a bit unlucky over 1200m the previous week so thought we would keep out of trouble and he stayed well.

“It is a stronger race this week but we are hopeful.”

Jockey Pat Dobbs is riding at the top of his game and was aboard SNF Maher when he landed a 2000m conditions race for trainer Julio Peromingo on the same card JAP Mersal won. “That was a good effort against some proven Sharjah performers but he now finds himself in a handicap off a stiff looking mark,” said Dobbs. “At least he loves the surface.”

Jaber Bittar saddles Kerkouan who won a 1600m maiden under Pat Cosgrave on turf at Abu Dhabi on his latest outing and the trainer is one of several to have made a great start to the season. “He has run well in both career starts to date,” said Cosgrave. “I was not beaten far on him in March and he stayed on strongly last time over 1600m suggesting this extra trip will suit. If he handles the dirt he should have a chance in a better race than he won.”

Kerkouan`s stable companions Mesk Al Reef and Ousaiama are both course winners with the latter seeking a third Sharjah victory, as is BH One, trained by Tony Manuel. Barolo is another dual course winner, while Tejaara won a 1200m maiden here in February for Doug Watson and is just one more to consider in a wide open contest.