Purebred Arabians Take Centre Stage at Sharjah

Oertel-O`Shea Combination in Action Again

Two Dh45,000 Purebred Arabian races, both over 1700m, are the joint features at Sharjah’s second meeting of the season on Saturday, with just one Thoroughbred contest on the six race card.

The meeting, sponsored by Sharjah International Book Fair, concludes with a 1700m handicap, for which the maximum field of 16 have been declared.

Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel and Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea have developed a powerful alliance and follow their victory at Meydan on Thursday with a live chance thanks to Kalahari Desert who has to concede weight to all bar one of his rivals.

O’Shea said: “He has yet to win on dirt but ran well enough when second here on three occasions so conditions should be fine. Hopefully he can go close.”

Oertel’s charge shares top-weight with SNF Maher, to whom he was second over 2000m last December and a course and distance winner for Julio Peromingo. The mount of Wayne Smith on this occasion, he looks a big danger.

“He likes it around Sharjah which is obviously a bonus,” said Smith. “He won his first two starts last season so is proven fresh and he should not be far away.”

Alfirsaan, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, surely has a special place in his owner’s heart having provided his 600th UAE winner when making a winning debut last November.

That was over 1200m and he has not been seen since but he is the choice of retained jockey, Dane O’Neill who said: “It was great to ride Sheikh Hamdan’s 600th local winner and this horse is certainly unexposed.”

O’Neill’s decision leaves Pat Dobbs to ride the same owner’s Fantastique MHF, who is trained by Doug Watson and is something of a course specialist.

Richard Mullen partners Sharis, yet to win a race but second on his only previous course start for Jaber Bittar and he too should run well.

An hour earlier, 14 are set to face the starter in a conditions race over the same course and distance and Oertel and O’Shea again combine, this time with Zman Al Ajayib.

She remains a maiden after eight starts and stable companion, Noor Einy could be a realistic alternative with Wycliffee Matee, seeking his first UAE winner, in the saddle.

Jabber Bittar is well represented, with four runners, of whom Rabia and Wayne Smith look to hold leading claims as a previous course winner, as is stable companion Ouasima, the mount of Jesus Rosales.

Jaci Wickham is always a trainer to fear and Richard Mullen rides her Yakoota W’Rsan who merits respect.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 1700m handicap for which nine have been declared, headed by Storm Belt who was ultra impressive when winning a course and distance maiden almost a year ago. Pat Dobbs rides for Doug Watson.

Skycruiser, a Meydan winner on this weekend 12 months ago for Satish Seemar, looks the main danger under Richard Mullen in a race he won the equivalent of in 2010.

Mullen said: “Skycruiser is so versatile and goes well fresh so we have to be hopeful.”