Fantastique MHF Seeks Win on Seasonal Debut at Sharjah

Watson-Trained Purebred Arabian Claimed Same Race Last Season

Sharjah’s second meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon is highlighted by a very competitive 1700m handicap for which 13 have been declared, including last year’s winner, Fantastique MHF.

Trained by Doug Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he will be ridden by the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, just as he was 12 months ago.

He did have the benefit of a previous run when winning this last year but is seeking to make a winning start to his campaign this time.

All five of his previous UAE victories have been registered at Sharjah, three over this 1700m, as well as a 1200m handicap in 2010 and the 2700m Sharjah Marathon in 2011.

“He certainly seems to save his best for Sharjah,” said Watson. “On his day he is very useful around there. He seems in good form and can hopefully run well.”

Helal Al Alawi enjoyed a great season throughout the last campaign and has already opened his account this time round. He saddles Ahmadani, who actually ‘won’ two 1200m Sharjah maidens last year but was subsequently disqualified after the first ‘success’.

Royston Ffrench rides and they look a big danger to all having been second over this 1700m course and distance on his final start last season.

Alawi won this in 2013 with Ameer Al Sraya and his second runner, Little Miss Fanci, should appreciate the return to dirt having finished tailed off on the Abu Dhabi turf last week.
Freddie Tylicki takes the ride with Champion Jockey, Richard Mullen, who was aboard in that effort in the capital last week, switching to MH Areeb, on whom he won a 1400m handicap at Al Ain last season for Elise Jeanne.
He won twice (the first was a dead-heat) over this 1700m in 2013.

“He goes well at Sharjah,” said Mullen. “He ran well enough last week over 2000m and the drop in trip should be a positive.”

The powerful Al Asayl Stables have two in the race for their new trainer, Eric Lemartinel, with Tadhg O’Shea on RB Rich Abratude and Rabdan partnered by Gerald Avranche.
Both have to be feared in a wide open contest.

The Thoroughbred handicap at Sharjah’s second meeting of the season has been a rich source of Dubai World Cup Carnival winners with Price Is Truth winning over 1200m last year, while Storm Belt won 1700m handicaps in both 2012 and 2013.

This meeting’s sole Thoroughbred race is a 2000m handicap, for which eight were declared before Watson’s Moosir was unveiled as an early non-runner on Thursday.

As a result, Dane O’Neill switches to Watheeq, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe and, like Moosir, owned by Sheikh Hamdan. Twice a course and distance winner in 2013, he has failed to win in 12 subsequent outings but this looks a good opportunity to remedy that.

Dhruba Selvaratnam saddles Sowaylm under stable jockey, Chris Hayes. The pair were a respectable sixth at Jebel Ali two weeks ago when the horse looked in need of the outing.
His one local win was over 1400m at Al Ain but he stayed 1950m well at Jebel Ali in February and these conditions could prove his optimum.

The Ahmed bin Harmash duo of Exploratory and Grilletto are the only other UAE winners in the field, though neither have won on dirt.

Stable jockey, Tylicki, partners Grilletto with Xavier Ziani on his stable companion.