Tadhg O'Shea bidding for glory in Abu Dhabi's final meeting of the season

Peter Ward 13/03/2016
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All set for glory: Tadgh O’Shea.

In the purebred Arabian contest, he and Molahen El Alhan should make a bold bid to concede weight to eight rivals which are headed by his stable companions Namrood and RB Dixie Burning.

All three are trained by Eric Lemartinel for Sheikh Khalifa and, seeking a seventh course and distance victory, Molahen El Alhan looks sure to at least go close.

O’Shea said: “These conditions really suit him and he won comfortably last time. This is a stronger race but he should be thereabouts.”

RB Dixie Burning is actually unbeaten but the mount of Gerald Avranche has not raced since March 2014 when making it three wins from as many starts, including over course and distance on this card that same year.

An hour later, O’Shea rides the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Deerfield who will be having just his second start locally.

His first was last Sunday, when seventh in a 1,400m course handicap but he was beaten by less than three lengths and, the way he was staying on strongly, suggested this extra 200m would suit.

O’Shea said: “That was his first run since September and first for us so we had to be pleased with him.

His one win in England was over 1,600m, so returning to this trip should help him and he should run well in a competitive race.”

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Stormardal in top form at Meydan

Peter Ward 12/03/2016
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Impressive: Stormardal.

Stormardal, ridden by Wayne Smith for Ismail Mohammed, was impressive when defeating five rivals in the featured 1600m handicap at Meydan’s domestic fixture on Friday.

It was second course and distance victory for the horse this year who had been given a break since the middle of January.

Smith explained: “This horse has had a few problems and we have had to be patient with him. He seems best fresh so I imagine that is what we will try and do next season and, hopefully, he could yet be a Carnival horse for 2017.”

Paul Hanagan rode a treble for his boss, Sheikh Hamdan, with the Doug Watson-trained Moosir making all in a 1600m handicap and the same trainer’s Nathr repeating the trick in a 1900m handicap.

The middle leg of the treble was provided by Alareef, leading only in the final strides to land a 1200m handicap for South African Mike de Kock.

Hanagan said: “It has just been a brilliant season, both for myself and, in particular, Sheikh Hamdan.”

De Kock was also to complete a brace with the smooth victory of Baroot, in a 1400m handicap, also a second winner for jockey Smith.

The two maidens on the card were won by Rockley, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer and ridden by Royston French over 1600m, before the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Burnt Pavlova and Chris Hayes made all over 2000m.

Hayes was deputising for Harry Bentley who was on duty in Qatar at a meeting originally postponed due to inclement weather on Wednesday.

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All eyes on Hamza for Ruler of Sharjah Trophy

Peter Ward 12/03/2016
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The one to beat: Hamza (l)

Sharjah stage their final meeting of the campaign on Saturday afternoon, the 1700m The Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy, afforded Prestige status and which has attracted a field of eight.

The race would appear to revolve around one horse, Hamza, to be ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Sheikh Khalifa, a combination that has landed the last two renewals of this race.

Trained by Eric Lemartinel, Hamza is making his dirt debut, which is always a concern but, on official ratings, is a far better horse than his seven opponents. He has won twice, both in the UAE where he will be having his seventh start of a relatively busy campaign.

Having won a 1400m on the Abu Dhabi turf on his local debut in November, he returned to winning ways, also at Abu Dhabi, in the Emirates Colts’ Classic, on his most recent outing.

Another Prestige contest, that was over 1600m and he and O’Shea led all the way, tactics they may well try and employ on this first dirt foray.

O’Shea said: “He is a nice, young horse whose form is very solid. He trains on dirt and seems to handle it so hopefully the surface will not be an issue and he should be the one to beat.”

Stable companion, Men Alemarat, is seeking just a second career victory, having won a 2000m maiden at Al Ain in January. He is, therefore, at least proven on dirt and was a very close second in the inaugural Al Ain Derby, a Prestige race over 1800m, on his most recent start.

On that occasion, he was caught on the line by the Mohd Ramadan-trained ES Kwashi and there should be little between the pair again.

Ramadan said: “I train on the track at Al Ain so that was a very special win and the horse has now won his last two. He should run well.”

Fernando Jara takes the ride on a horse he partnered a 1000m success on his penultimate run. This trio are all 4yos and the opposition includes three 5yos, including the Helal Al Alawitrained Ahmadani, second in this race last year.

Royston Ffrench, in the saddle then and again on Friday, said: “We were beaten by a very good horse in Abhaar last year and there is nothing of that class in this year’s race.

“Hamza looks the one to beat if he handles the surface but at least my fellow’s proven on it.”

The Doug Watson-trained Hakim, also representing the elder generation, is another to consider under Pat Dobbs.

Watson said: “We expect a big run from him and we have been looking forward to running him at Sharjah in this race.”

The Sharjah Marathon is the finale with eight declared for the 2700m handicap. Sheikh Zayed, Lemartinel and O’Shea again combine, this time with Rabdan.

Watson’s The Secret, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, whose retained jockey Paul Hanagan takes the mount, won three times at Sharjah in the early part of the season.

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