Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club stages the first of its six fixtures throughout the new campaign on Saturday, including a six-race card, which is highlighted by the sole Thoroughbred handicap contest over 1000m.
Fifteen have been declared in what appears a wide-open heat with champion trainer Doug Watson fielding two horses believed to have big chances: Dangerous Thought and Team Meeting.
The latter, the mount of Sam Hitchcott, raced six times for the master of Red Stables last season, his first in the UAE, but was unable to add to the pair of winning tallies he gained while in the care of Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin.
This will be his first visit to Sharjah, whereas Dangerous Thought has three previous course efforts on his resume, including a second over 1200m last February.
Watson, who has a good record at Sharjah, said: “It looks a good spot for both of them, but Dangerous Thought does have the benefit of that run already this campaign and ran well at Sharjah last season. Team Meeting has summered well and we have gelded him. It’s his first run of the season, but he seems in good form, so hopefully we have two decent chances.”
Satish Seemar saddles Bedaveeya, who was one place in front of Dangerous Thought in a 1200m maiden at Jebel Ali two weeks ago in his third career start. The mount of Richard Mullen, he looks a big danger to all.
In the same Jebel Ali contest, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Jockey Joe was sixth. He returned to be fourth last week at Meydan in a 1400m maiden won by Watson’s Big Brown Bear. Formerly trained by Watson, he is looking for his first success at the eighth attempt and third already this season. Fernando Jara rides.
Pat Cosgrave partners Ajwad, one of four in the race trained by Rashed Bouresly. His sole victory was over 1200m at Jebel Ali in February 2017. The 5-year-old was a decent fourth on his seasonal return, a handicap over that same course and distance won by Kowaiyess. On occasion, Cosgrave’s mount has demonstrated excellent early speed.
If able to do so again, the Sharjah track over this minimum trip should certainly suit him. On his one previous course visits, he led for a long way over 1200m before weakening in the final 300m.
The aforementioned Kowaiyess is trained by Helal Al Alawi, who has two in this contest, with William Lee electing to ride locally debuting Antiguan Rock and Antonio Fresu aboard Docket. Both are tackling 1000m for the first time.
The Purebred Arabian action is comprised of three maidens and two handicaps. There are some interesting newcomers in the maidens representing the powerful yards of Eric Lemartinel and Ernst Oertel in particular. As you would expect, the handicaps look wide open, so Pick Six players appear to face a torrid task as highly competitive racing action returns to Sharjah.