Ruler`s Cup Takes Centre Stage at Sharjah

Final Meeting of Season at Track

Sharjah’s final meeting of the season on Saturday is highlighted by the course’s biggest race of the season, the 1700m Ruler of Sharjah Cup for which a select field of six have been declared.

These include MH Areeb who dead-heated in this last year when trained by Saleha Al Ghurair and won again over this course and distance last November, supplying his new trainer, Elise Jeanne, with her first UAE winner.

However, he has been well beaten in each of his last three starts and faces a quality opponent here in the shape of Molahen Alham, representing the powerful combination of owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel and Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

Winner of half his six career starts, his most recent outing was a victory in the Emirates Colts’ Classic on the Abu Dhabi turf.

This will be his first dirt outing but, if taking to the surface, he will surely be hard to beat. O’Shea said: “He is a young horse we have always liked and won both his first two starts before finishing second twice and disappointing a bit in the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup.

“We then decided to ride him very positively in the Colts’ Classic and the tactic worked. He seemed to really enjoy being out in front and galloped on strongly to the line when challenged.

“That was over 1600m but the extra 100m should be fine. Hopefully he will act on the surface and be hard to beat.”

The Eric Lemartinel duo of Ain Jaloot and HK Ahlawiya, have both lost their maiden tag this season but this looks a much stiffer task.

The main support race is the 2700m Sharjah Marathon and the maximum field of 16 will face the starter, including last year’s winner, Laahaq. Trained by Majed Al Jahouri, for HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he has been well beaten in his three outings this season.

As he was 12 months ago, Harry Bentley is in the saddle and connections have reached for the blinkers.

Stable companion, Raheq, was third last year, just ahead of Forgehill Cezanne, again in opposition for Oertel and O’Shea. His stable companion, Swyft, was sixth in the 2013 renewal, when Oertel’s third runner, Kalahari Desert, was a well beaten eleventh.

The Jaber Bittar-trained Dig Dagon and Raked, also owned by Sheikh Mansour but trained by Lemartinel, are others to consider in this stamina sapping handicap.