Sharjah Proves Lucky Hunting Ground for Al Alawi


Fledgling Trainer Completes Double with Rafeef and Ameer Al Sraya

Saturday’s Sharjah meeting was an occasion trainer, Helal Al Alawi will never forget after Rafeef, only his seventh runner, won the opening 1200m maiden before the trainer completed a double with Ameer Al Sraya.

The latter landed the concluding 1700m handicap, one of two Purebred Arabian features on the card, with Sam Hitchcott in the saddle. The pair held on gamely from Alfirsaan, winner of his only previous racecourse appearance.

Earlier, never far off the pace under Royston Ffrench, Rafeef dashed clear about 300m out and was never going to be caught.

Sporting a massive grin, Al Alawi said: “My very first runner was only last week and came second in the first race so it is brilliant to win the first this week for my first winner. I was quite hopeful and she has certainly not let me down.

“Hopefully it is the first of many winners!”

Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel and Champion, Jockey Tadhg O’Shea maintained their winner-per-meeting record (they did not have a runner at Jebel Ali) with the gallant victory of Zman al Ajayib in the 1700m Conditions race, the other joint most valuable race on the card.

The pair hit the front about 500m out but were headed in the straight by the smooth travelling AF Jazlah. O’Shea’s mount was not to be denied and she fought back in determined fashion to lead again in the dying strides.

O’Shea said: “She deserves a lot of credit as she has really had to dig deep and well done to Ernst and the team for getting back out quickly as I was second on her here only last week.

The winner, a seven-year-old, was losing her maiden tag at the ninth time of asking.

The only Thoroughbred race was a 1700m handicap and the Doug Watson-trained Storm Belt maintained his unbeaten Sharjah record with an easy win under Pat Dobbs. Winner of an identical race here last November in scintillating fashion, he repeated the trick here and could be called the winner a long way out.

Watson said: “He is a nice big horse and goes on all the UAE tracks but is best on dirt and he loves it here at Sharjah. There probably will not be many opportunities for him here now so we will find another opportunity elsewhere if we need to.

Dobbs was completing a double having won a third 1200m maiden which produced by far the closest finish of the three, as well as the fastest time, with AL Raahi just prevailing from Prism and TM Ac-Dc whom the judge could not split and dead-heated for second.

Dobbs said: “I was always going well just behind the leader and he held on grimly at the end.”

Richard Mullen was hard at work on Foladh at the halfway stage in the second 1200m maiden but his mount, second over 1000m on debut last week, responded well and swept past his rivals to win going away. Trained by Jaber Bittar, he was chased home by stable companion Qaisar, the mount of Wayne Smith, with the trainer’s third runner, Sharaf Al Reef fourth – having lost third in the dying strides.

Mullen explained: “Full credit to the team for getting him back out so quickly. I was warned I would need to keep pushing and they were certainly right. He probably needs 1600m already and should improve.”