Jawaal lands Ruler’s Cup in hard fought
Racing at Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Saturday, February 27, afternoon featured the track’s traditional annual highlight, the HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Cup. a 1700m conditions race afforded Prestige status, where class prevailed with Jawaal (Mahabb x Gabra by Dormane) delivering a workmanlike, rather than spectacular, performance to win the prestigious prize.
Settled in midfield by Jim Crowley, opening his account for the year, the homebred 5-year-old entire was one of several holding a genuine chance entering the short straight where he soon gained the initiative. They looked set to win easily, but were made to work hard by Al Ajeeb W’Rsan, Alazoum and Maqam who followed him home in that order.
Crowley’s mount, reunited with the jockey for the first time since they won last year’s 1600m Emirates Colts Classic, the only previous time they were combined, was actually winning a fourth Prestige race and is now unbeaten at Sharjah after three course appearances. In December he won a pair of 1200m course Prestige contests, a handicap, the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup and, just a week later, the Crown Prince Of Sharjah, a conditions race.
Both were also restricted to horses foaled in the UAE. He then tackled ‘open’ company in Group Three and Group Two contests in Abu Dhabi and at Meydan respectively. He clearly benefitted from this return to calmer waters.
Al Jahoori said: “He really seems to like the Sharjah track and has won all his three races here. I am very happy that he was able to step up in trip and I am very lucky to be training this horse. He's still green and learning, so I think he needs time to grow and, we hope, he will be a nice class horse. Jim Crowley has done well on this horse before and I am very happy he accepted the ride and won well with him again.”
For horses foaled in the UAE, the curtain raising 1200m maiden attracted a field of 13, but there was probably only ever one leader with Omani apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi sending Shawall (Bibi De Carrere x Shajaret Eddor Al Reef by Scharly) straight to the head of affairs, kicking clear shortly after halfway and with the race soon settled. Sporting the silks of Al Wathba Racing for trainer Majed Al Jahoori, Al Balushi was achieving something various other jockeys had failed to do on the homebred 6-year-old gelding in no less than 21 previous attempts! Runner-up four times and third twice previously, this was his first appearance in maiden company since a second place finish, over this 1200m Sharjah course and distance, at the end of November. He was also third over the same track and trip, behind aforementioned stablemate Jawaal in the Crown Prince Of Sharjah, a Prestige contest, in December so was fully entitled to win a maiden such as this.
The following handicap, over the same 1200m, produced an almost carbon copy with Fabrice Veron soon in front aboard Anna Bella AA (Burning Sand x Angel Proof by NF Proof) and the pair staying there throughout the remainder of the contest, 11 rivals never able to land a telling blow. Previously a maiden after 13 starts, seven locally, the 7-year-old mare, was a breakthrough first ever winner, after 53 previous runners over four seasons for trainer Abdelkhir Adam. She races in the colours of Liwa Stables from where he trains and this was the first time she had finished in the first three locally, although she had managed a second and a pair of third place finished in her native US.
A delighted Adam said: “I knew she would win or go very close today because we knew she was in very good form and I told Fabrice that he had a big chance on her. He is a very good jockey and gave her a very good ride today.”
A definite theme was developing on the straight track and the following second 1200m handicap, this one restricted to runners foaled in the UAE, was won in identical fashion by AF Thayer (AF Alsalaam x Aberfeldy by Amer).
Smartly away under Tadhg O’Shea, riding for his main employer Khalid Al Khalifa Al Nabooda and the owner’s principal trainer Ernst Oertel, the pair never saw another rival, leaving ten opponents trailing in their wake. The majority of the powerful Al Nabooda string are homebred and this 4-year-old colt is no exception, doubling his career tally here in comfortable fashion. He is actually unbeaten on dirt having made a winning debut, over this 1200m course and distance, in late November before contesting two better class races on the Abu Dhabi turf.
He clearly appreciated reverting to the Sharjah dirt and Oertel said: “This 1200m is ideal for him, as well as the surface whereas, in Abu Dhabi we tried him over 1400m and 1600m when, on reflection, we probably employed the wrong tactics with him.”
Connections were then denied a rapid double in the following 1700m handicap when their AF Musannef, who had fought off several challengers, had no answer to the final thrust delivered, completing his own brace, Fabrice Veron aboard Taajer (Al Nasr x Richly Blessed by TH Richie). Riding in the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for Eric Lemartinel, the five-year-old gelding was the fourth consecutive winner on the card losing their maiden tag, in his case after 16 previous outings.
That said, it was hard to begrudge him what had previously proved an elusive first win; he had four second and the same number of thirds in the bank before this. On his tenth start of a busy campaign, just last Saturday, he was denied close home by the aforementioned AF Musannef in a 1600m Al Ain maiden, so was exacting revenge here.
Lemartinel said: “The horse really deserved a win after so many good placings, so I am delighted for him, the owner and the whole team.”
Source: Emirates Racing Authority
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