Sharjah Hosts Second Meeting of New UAE Season

Watson Seeks Strong Start in Thoroughbred Contest

After Friday`s opening meeting at Jebel Ali, the racing community moves to Sharjah on Saturday with pride of place going to the sole Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2000m handicap.

Doug Watson saddles two of the twelve runners with Diwaan, the choice of Pat Dobbs, looking a more likely winner than Dr Faustus, the mount of Sam Hitchcott.

“They are both in good form at home,” said Watson. “Dr Faustus tends to need his fist run back but this is probably the weakest race he has contested for us.

“It will be his first try at Sharjah so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

“Dobbsy has elected to ride Diwaan, knowing Dr Faustus tends to improve for the outing but it would have been a tough choice.

“Diwaan has had a lot less racing and showed plenty of ability last season. He has had a few problems but seems to be over them now and will hopefully run a big race.”

Satish Seemar has three in the race with Richard Mullen electing to ride Shihab, winner of his only race in the UK (in 2011) but out of luck in six UAE runs.

Mullen said: “He has been working well enough and this would be a lesser race than some he has contested. Hopefully he will go well.”

Stable companions On War and Slew De Beaune are ridden by Marc Monaghan and Jose Santiago respectively.

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns three of the twelve runners in the race and retained jockey Dane O’Neill has opted for Estifzaaz, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

O’Neill’s choice is making both his local and dirt debut having won one of his eights starts in the UK.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Momaris is another to consider having won on his seasonal return at Jebel Ali 12 months ago. He will be ridden by Oisin Murphy, Champion Apprentice elect in the UK, who is riding at Sharjah for the first time on Saturday (he has one earlier ride in a Purebred Arabian contest).

Arguably the most interesting of the Purebred Arabian action is also a 2000m handicap and O’Neill rides Sheikh Hamdan’s Fantastique MHF, trained by Watson.

“He handles the Sharjah surface well and has been pleasing us in his work,” said Watson.

“This looks a weaker race than many he has run in so hopefully he will be competitive.”

Bedayer Al Asayl looks a big danger representing the ever powerful combination of Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea, Champion Trainer and Jockey respectively.

Winner of her only previous start, in a maiden on the Abu Dhabi turf in March 2013, if handling the Sharjah dirt, she could be a formidable opponent for her six rivals.