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Course Specialist Knife Makes First Sharjah Start for New Trainer

Al Alawi Hopes to Continue Double Form

Pride of place at Sharjah goes to the Purebred Arabians with 11 declared for the concluding Dh50,000 handicap over 1700m on Saturday.

Eleven have been declared, including course specialist, Knife who will be having his first start for rookie trainer, Helal Al Alawi who saddled a double on the course last week. The diminutive Knife, now an eight-year-old, has recorded all bar one of his victories at Sharjah, twice for Majed Al Jahouri and three times for Tony Manuel.

He looks certain to make a bold bid under Royston Ffrench. “I did ride him on the Abu Dhabi turf a few years ago but he has shown himself to be a dirt horse, Said Ffrench. “The 1700m appears his optimum at Sharjah, the yard are in form and he should go very well.”

He gives weight to all his nine rivals after Thursday`s defection of Richlore who was due to be one of three in the race for Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel whose first string would appear to be Kalahari Desert, the choice of Champion Jockey Tadhg O’ Shea.

“Kalahari Desert has the advantage of a run under his belt,” explained O’Shea. “He put up a decent effort when third over this course and distance last week and we have put the blinkers back on to just try and sharpen him up.

“It is a decent little race of its type but he we should not be far away.”

The Al Jahouri-trained Raheq is another who could have a fitness advantage, having run well at Abu Dhabi last Sunday. He will be ridden by Jesus Rosales while, with the Musabah Al Muhairi team in great form, his course and distance winner King Sakbe has to be feared.

Richard Mullen is suspended so Wayne Smith and Marc Monaghan ride Ma’Error W’Rsan and A’Nnabak W’Rsan (correct) respectively for Jaci Wickham who opened her seasonal account at Abu Dhabi last weekend.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 2000m handicap for which eight have been declared. The weights are headed by the Al Muhairi-trained Almuftarris, like King Sakbe to be ridden by Dane O’Neill for his main employer, owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum – fast on his way to his 650th UAE winner.

Almuftarris ran well here last week, behind easy winner, Storm Belt and a repeat of that should see him go very close.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Mezyaad was a nostril behind him last week and renews rivalry. “That was a good run considering it was his first since January,” said the trainer. “He should have come on for that and should go well again having shown he handles the track.”

Erwan Charpy saddles two with Calabash Cove, who ran well for a long way at Jebel Ali two weeks ago on his first start since March 2009, respected under Adrie De Vries with Tadhg O’Shea on stable companion Natural Law.

With promising apprentice Marc Monaghan taking a valuable 3kgs off his back, On War certainly has to be considered for Satish Seemar.