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Sharjah Hosts Charity Race Day

Oertel and O`Shea in Frame Again

Sharjah Racing and Equestrian Club hold their fourth consecutive race meeting of the current season and Richleau appears to have a big chance in the most valuable.

The final race on the card, the 1200m Friends Of Cancer Patients Handicap, it has attracted the maximum field of 16 Purebred Arabians .

With Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel in such good form and his partnership with Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea continuing to blossom, Richleau has to be on the shortlist.

“She won her maiden at Sharjah,” said O’Shea, “so the track is certainly not an issue. She showed plenty of speed when I rode her at Abu Dhabi last season and the handicapper has relented a little bit so we expect a big run.”

O’Shea’s mount was third in a course and distance maiden on her first career start in a race won by fellow debutant Alfirsaam. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he was the owner’s 600th UAE winner on that occasion, a fond memory for jockey Dane O’Neill.

“That was a great landmark to be involved with,” he said. “Last season was my first in the job so that was a great highlight so early on.

“Alfirsaan ran well on his only other start a fortnight ago and he should keep improving with racing and experience.”

Owner Ali Haddad has done well with his French imports and Al Arous is a fascinating contender, trained by Eric Lemartinel and the only mount on the card for Gerald Avranche. Unbeaten in two starts on dirt in France, her two local starts last season were on turf in Listed company so she should relish Saturday’s conditions.

The only Thoroughbred race, the 1200m Pink Caravan Handicap, features a clash between 1000m course record holder Festival City and Captain Rio, who previously held the fastest 1000m time.

Saeed Al Mazrooei again rides Festival City for Abdulla bin Huzaim but will find this tougher with Surge Ahead, runner-up in that race three weeks ago, looking in need of this extra 200m on that occasion.

He is trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for Khalia Dasmal, while Dhruba Selvaratnam saddles Parvaaz, third in that same race, for his main patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

He has yet to win in the UAE though and the aforementioned Captain Rio, fifth to Festival City when relinquishing his 1000m record, could be a bigger danger over a trip he made a winning debut in America.

Colmar Kid, representing the always feared trio of Musabah Al Muhairi, Fathi Esaed Mohd Egziama and Wayne Smith, is the unknown on his local debut. All his seven UK outings, including a 1200m maiden success, were on turf and he should be very competitive if handling the dirt.

The meeting is being held in association with The Pink Convoy and the Society of Friends of Cancer Patients. The idea is to make the meeting a charity event and owners, trainers and jockeys will be encouraged to donate prizes won during the afternoon as well as prize money earned, or a percentage of monies won, to these worthwhile causes.

The track will also provide donation boxes for others in attendance to support the causes.