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First race programme of Sharjah 2013-14 season to be held on Saturday

The Thoroughbreds take centre stage at Sharjah’s first meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon with seven declared for a 1000m handicap, the most valuable race on the card and kindly sponsored by Sharjah Electricity and Water Company.

Course and distance winner Captain Rio looks to hold leading claims for trainer Satish Seemar and stable jockey Richard Mullen said: “The fact that he goes well at Sharjah is an obvious plus and it looks a winnable race. He has worked well at home and is handicapped to at least go close.”

Another regular on the Sharjah dirt is the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Parvaaz who has yet to win in the UAE but was only narrowly denied over today’s course and distance last September. He has the assistance of leading British apprentice Thomas Brown, whose 1.5kgs claim could prove crucial on the joint top-weight.

Doug Watson relies on Final Recovery who also heads the weights with Pat Dobbs taking the ride. This will be his first attempt at the minimum trip but he showed plenty of pace in his races last season and the surface should not be an issue as he ran very well on the Jebel Ali dirt exactly a year ago.

“This just looked a good place to start his season,” said Watson. “He is pretty versatile with regards to ground and trip but however he fares here he will improve for the run.”

Local apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei rides Festival City, another with course form, for trainer Abdulla bin Huzaim, while Surge Ahead is an interesting new recruit to the UAE. He represents former Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe who will be looking for a fast start as he bids to regain that crown from Ernst Oertel. Stable jockey Royston Ffrench rides.

The other five races are all for Purebred Arabians, the most valuable being the penultimate one, a 2000m handicap, in which Oertel saddles Lahaan, the mount of Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea. This will be his first start on dirt and he remains a maiden after four starts on the Abu Dhabi turf.
Stable companion Strikke It Rich is also a maiden having only had two previous outings but both were at Sharjah and he at least appeared to handle the surface.

Tony Manuel was leading trainer on the course last year with seven winners and relies on AS Alkhattaf, the mount of Adrie De Vries and another yet to win a race. This will be his eighth start in a race only two (MH Thirteen and RS Mujahid) of the fifteen runners have managed to get their head in front to date.