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Al Mazrouei and Laahaq Provide Thrilling Finish in Sharjah Feature

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Pair Deny Bedayer Al Asayl Third Victory in Three Starts

The featured 2000m handicap at Sharjah’s third meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon was highlighted by a thrilling finish won in a last-gasp effort from the Majed Al Jahouri-trained Laahaq, produced to lead on the line by local apprentice Saeed Al Mazrouei.

In doing so, they denied Bedayer Al Asayl, suffering her first career defeat on her third start. She had looked likely to lead all the way under Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea. However, O’Shea’s mount was visibly tiring inside the final 100m and no answer to Laahaq’s late challenge.

“I thought we had just made it,” said a delighted Al Mazrouei. “I had to give him a reminder with a circuit left to keep him interested but he responded well in the final 100m to lead where it matters.”

O’Shea may have been out of luck in the feature but had already landed a double. A second 1200m Purebred Arabian maiden on the card provided the perfect opportunity for ES Maydan to open his account at the seventh attempt for trainer Saifaldin Deeb. The pair were quite slowly away and, at halfway, only had two of their nine rivals behind them.

However, when O’Shea asked his mount to make progress he did so relentlessly and they hit the front 200m out.

“I was probably a bit further back than planned,” said O’Shea. “He was always going well enough though and once we hit the front he kept on all the way to the line.”

O’Shea then found a very willing partner in the only Thoroughbred race on the card, also a 1200m maiden and he made virtually every yard of the running on Saalib, having his seventh career start and third locally.

The Musabah Al Muhairi charge had most of the field in trouble a long way out, with the exception of Athman under Richard Mullen. It looked as though Mullen’s mount would gain the day with 100m to run but Saalib would not be passed, holding on dourly.

“He has really battled for me,” said O’Shea. “He showed good pace from the gates and has travelled strongly throughout. When the second drew alongside he has shown a great attitude to keep his head in front.”

Just as he had been in the feature, O’Shea was denied a treble in the concluding 1700m conditions race with his mount, Al Yawazi caught close home by Raad W’Rsan.

Apprentice Daniel Muscutt rode the winner for Bakhit Al Ketbi.

Richard Mullen maintained his rich vein of form, partnering the Jaber Bittar-trained Meftah Al Reef to victory in the opening 1200m maiden. Mullen was in double form both in Qatar on Thursday and Jebel Ali on Friday.

“It has been a good few days,” said Mullen. “I knew we had a big chance here as I was second on this horse two weeks ago on debut and was sure to have improved with that run under his belt.

“It probably was not a great race but he has won nicely.”

Another jockey in flying form is Royston Ffrench and he was in the saddle aboard Ameer Al Sraya, who posted a comfortable victory in a 1700m handicap for trainer Helal Al Alawi. Ffrench was content to track the leaders before rushing his mount to the front as the field turned into the straight.

It was a decisive and effective move and the pair were always going to win.

Ffrench said: “He was a course and distance winner just over a year ago so I had no concerns regarding conditions and he showed a decent turn of foot there.

“It has been a really good start to the season.”