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Course Specialists In The Frame At Sharjah

Hanagan Bids For Success On Course And Distance Winner, Estiqraar

The Purebred Arabians again take centre stage at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon with the six-race meeting concluding with a 1,700m conditions contest for which 12 have been declared, including several course specialists.

Paul Hanagan, retained jockey to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has chosen to ride course and distance winner Estiqraar, trained by Gill Duffield. A course and distance winner, he will be having his first start of the campaign but carries a penalty and gives weight to all bar one of his 11 opponents.

Hanagan said: “He has won both his starts at Sharjah, including first time out over course and distance last year so it would have been hard not to choose him. His penalty makes things more difficult but he has to run well with conditions to suit.”

The owner also has Fantastique MHF, third to Estiqraar over course and distance last November and a Sharjah winner on four occasions. Also penalised, Dane O`Neill rides for trainer Doug Watson who sounds hopeful.

“He certainly seems to save his best for Sharjah and he probably needed his first run this season, said Watson. “He was penalised then and is again but is pleasing us at home.”

That comeback race was won narrowly by Ma`Eror W`Rsan, ridden by Richard Mullen for Jaci Wickham and the pair narrowly denied the re-opposing Kalahari Desert.

The latter is trained by Ernst Oertel and was subsequently just touched off SNF Maher who is seeking feature race victory at his third consecutive Sharjah meeting. Trained by Julio Peromingo, he will again be ridden by Pat Dobbs who said: “The horse has been a revelation in a visor in his two starts this season and seems to be improving.”

His victory last week was achieved from the Tony Manuel-trained BH One, another Sharjah specialist as is stable companion Knife.

The only Thoroughbred race is an ultra competitive 2,000m handicap with 16 set to face the starter. Musabah Al Muhairi trains course and distance winner Bin Shamardal who found only the impressive Storm Belt too good here three weeks ago. He will be ridden by Wayne Smith who said: “He seldom runs a bad race, especially at Sharjah and was probably unlucky last time to find a well handicapped rival.
“Granted a bit of luck we are very hopeful.”

Florentine Ruler, who finished second and third to Bin Shamardal last season, has joined Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe this season but was a long way behind that rival last time although he was ahead of another Sharjah winner in Skycruiser.
Fourth in that race was Shahin Shah who will be ridden on Saturday by Champion Jockey, Tadhg O`Shea for trainer Ernst Oertel. The jockey said: “I did not ride him last time but he put up a decent effort over 1,700m which would be short enough for him so the extra 300m is in his favour.
“His work has been very good and I expect a big run.”