News

Sheikh Hamdan Runners in Double Form at Sharjah

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Impressive Rafeej Claims 1200m Track Record

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, claimed two victories at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon and combined with the two easiest winners on the six race card.

Both their winners won by eight lengths with pride of place going to Rafeej who was far too good for his nine rivals in the only Thoroughbred race on the card.

In the process of his victory in the 1200m handicap, Rafeej established a new track record.

Highly regarded by his trainer Musabah Al Muhairi, he was actually eased down close home and could not have been more impressive.

Al Muhairi said: “We were very hopeful coming here today as his work has been very good and the horses as a whole are running well.

“This was his first run since the summer of 2012 so hopefully he will improve for this return but we knew we had him fit enough to run a big race.”

Earlier, Barnaamaj , trained by Doug Watson, routed his 12 rivals in the second of two 1700m maidens to initiate the double.

Never far off the pace under O’Neill, the pair eased to the front about 600m out and shot clear of a toiling pack. He crossed the line eight lengths clear of runner-up Dormilon but was value for a greater winning distance.

“I was able to ease him in the final stages,” said O’Neill. “It has been over a year since his sole previous run and he has really grown up in the interim. It is easy to get carried away after that kind of effort, but he could be nice.”

The most valuable race on the card, the concluding 1200m handicap, produced a thrilling finish with Wayne Smith producing Najem S’Heel to lead in the dying strides for trainer, Saifaldin Deeb.

Smith said: “We were finishing fast and I was pretty hopeful of getting there and knew I had snatched it as we passed the post.”

Connections’ patience was finally rewarded when the Jaci Wickham-trained, Wassam W’Rsan opened his account at the tenth attempt in the opening 1700m maiden. Apprentice Marc Monaghan was in the saddle and both jockey and trainer were doubling their seasonal tallies.

Monaghan said: “He stays further so I was quite happy just off the leaders turning in as I knew he would run all the way to the line and we won a tad comfortably in the end.”

Course specialist SNF Maher, a winner on this card last year in a 2000m conditions race, repeated the trick, running out a comfortable winner of a handicap over the same distance. Always going well under Pat Dobbs, he went to the front 600m out and quickened clear early in the straight.

It was a first winner of the season for trainer, Julio Peromingo, who trains on the course, and Dobbs said: “I was always confident and he has done that in style.”

Jockey, Pat Cosgrave was another to open his account for the season, driving Al Areen to lead close home in a 1200m maiden and providing first season trainer Helal Al Alawi with his fourth winner of the campaign.