Watson Hopes for Fantastique Showing at Sharjah

Fantastique MHF Seeks to Reverse Form with Bedayer Al Asayl

Sharjah host the final meeting until March on Saturday and Doug Watson`s Fantastique MHF is to renew his rivalry with Ernst Oertel`s Bedayer Al Asayl in the featured 1700m Purebred Arabian handicap.

Fantastique MHF is seeking a sixth Sharjah victory and fourth over this course and distance. He bounced back to winning form in a virtually identical race five weeks ago, his first success since February 2011 when he won on the same track, over 2700m.

He also has a 1200m course victory to his name. Dane O’Neill rides for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“He was only just touched off on his seasonal return,” said Watson. “That was a good effort as the winner had won her only previous start. It was great to see him back in the winner’s enclosure last time."

“He goes so well at Sharjah so we can hope for another big run but this does look a better race than the one he won.”

The mare who denied Watson’s charge at the first Sharjah meeting of the season was Bedayer Al Asayl, trained by Ernst Oertel and the mount of Tadgh O’Shea. She has, perhaps surprisingly, been beaten in two subsequent outings but meets O’Neill’s mount on better terms here than she did when she beat him.

“This will only be her fifth career start,” said O’Shea. “She is still learning about the game and hopefully there is improvement to come. It is a competitive race but, hopefully, she will not be far away."

Oertel also saddles Swyft, the mount of stable apprentice, Daniel Muscutt.

The weights are headed by Kanjani, making his dirt debut and the mount of apprentice, George Buckell. His trainer, Helal Al Alawi is enjoying a productive season and, if taking to the surface, he could be the surprise package in the race.

Ibrahim Al Hadhrami is another handler whose horses have been running well and he saddles Ash’Ham, a 1600m maiden winner at Al Ain on his most recent start. That was only his third career outing and he was impressive but this is a tougher assignment.
As at Al Ain, Polish jockey Szczepan Mazur is aboard.

AS Fayz, the mount of Harry Bentley, was another to win on his previous start, a 1400m conditions race on the Abu Dhabi turf. Yet to win on dirt, he is trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

Elise Jeanne has saddled three winners from only 13 runners thus far this season and relies on MH Areeb, to be ridden by Xavier Ziani and twice a course and distance winner.

The only Thoroughbred contest is a 2000m handicap and the Watson-trained Diwaan looks to have serious claims and is bidding to repeat his course and distance victory of six weeks ago.

He should go close under Pat Dobbs, while the trainer also saddles the Harry Bentley-ridden Karma Chameleon, seeking to open his UAE account at the 20th attempt.

A dual course and distance winner last season, Watheeq looks a big threat for Sheikh Hamdan, O’Neill and trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

Satish Seemar has two in the race with Richard Mullen choosing More Aspen over Press Room, the mount of Marc Monaghan.