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Watson`s Wagon Keeps on Rolling with Barnaamaj Victory

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Four Wins in Two Meetings for Current Trainers` Championship Leader

Barnaamaj won the featured 1700m handicap at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon, continuing owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trainer Doug Watson’s great weekend.

The owner enjoyed a Meydan double on Thursday and repeated the trick here, while Watson was in treble form at Meydan so this made it four winners from the six most recent races in which he has saddled a runner.

Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, was in the saddle and, having stalked the early leader JAP Joker, drove his mount to the front at the end of the back straight. With 500m left only Ameer Al Sraya could go with him but he saw off that rival at the top of the straight to win comfortably.

“He had been off since January before his run here four weeks ago,” said Watson. “He needed that run badly, more than we thought, but was a lot fitter today. He was impressive winning his maiden over course and distance last year.

“This was only his sixth start. Hopefully he is still improving.”

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1200m handicap, was won in good style by Tagseed under a polished ride from apprentice, George Buckell, riding for his main employer locally, Musabah Al Muhairi. Sporting the third colours of owner Sheikh Hamdan, Buckell was never far off the pace before taking his mount to the front fully 400m from home.

They quickened clear, leaving 15 rivals toiling and never looked likely to be caught with Tagseed making a winning seasonal reappearance.

“I am really enjoying my spell in the UAE,” said Buckell. “It is a great opportunity and I am learning a lot. Obviously I am grateful to everyone who has made it happen.”

Jaber Bittar’s horses have made a good start to the season and Jesus Rosales was aboard the trainer’s Ouasima who led close home in a 1200m handicap to deny ES Maydan who had looked the likely winner with 100m remaining.

It was a winning seasonal debut for the seven-year-old mare and a third career win, exactly three years since her last visit to the winner’s enclosure when she won a conditions race over course and distance.

“I have won on her three times now, all over course and distance” said Rosales. “This Sharjah 1200m really does suit her and she has run some good races in defeat since her last win. She deserved that.”

The Helal Al Alwai-trained Ahmadani, first past the post in a 1200m Sharjah maiden four weeks ago but subsequently disqualified, made virtually all in an identical race which opened the card.

Originally first reserve, his place in the field was secured by the defection of Mahruss W’Rsan. Pat Dobbs, fresh from a Meydan double on Thursday, was the man in the saddle and, having broken well, the pair soon led in the centre of the track.

Huyam loomed large as a big danger 300m out and may have led briefly but Dobbs was not to be denied, driving his mount, who still showed signs of inexperience, home to win by a head.

“It was a great spare ride and the trainer was pretty confident beforehand,” said Dobbs. “He has had to battle but is still learning about the game and can only improve.”

Jockey Jose Santiago doubled his tally for the season, leading right on the line on MH Samurai in a 2000m maiden. Banan Al Reef and Marc Monaghan went for home 500m out with only Santiago’s mount able to throw down a challenge.

Banan Al Reef ran all the way to the line, clinging on determinedly, only to lose his lead in the last stride.

It was a third winner of the season for trainer Elise Jeanne from only her 11th runner.

“It has been a good season so far,” said the trainer. “We do not have many horses so we have to be very pleased with three winners at this stage of the campaign.”

The meeting concluded with a 1700m maiden, in which Xavier Ziani made all on JAP Sharaar for trainer Irfan Ellahi.