Dirt debutant Jawaal outsprints rivals to clinch Sharjah feature

Fernando Jara leads Majed Al Jahoori-trained Jawaal to victory in the Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup at the Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Saturday.

Saddled by Majed Al Jahoori for Al Wathba Racing, homebred colt and dirt debutant Jawaal, part of a quartet of 4-year-olds clashing with their elders, won the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup, a 1700m prestige handicap at the Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

Jawaal, who was able to concede weight to all 13 rivals to post a snug success, made smooth progress from midfield to lead inside the final 400m, running on strongly under Fernando Jara and always seemingly holding the late challenge of AF Taghzel. One of four Purebred Arabian races on the card restricted to horses foaled in the UAE, it was won last year by AF Alwajel, recent winner of this year’s Group 3 National Day Cup.

On just his seventh start, Jara’s mount was doubling his career tally, having previously won February’s 1600m Emirates Colts Classic, on the Abu Dhabi turf. Well beaten on his seasonal return, eight days ago in a 1400m Abu Dhabi handicap having led early on before weakening, he seemed to relish the conditions on his first start away from the capital’s turf.

Jara said: “I rode him last week and he showed plenty of early dash which he has replicated here to win what appeared a strong race nicely. Connections will have more options with him now as he is clearly versatile with regards to distance, surface and tactics.”

The opening 1200m handicap, also limited to horses foaled locally, looked particularly competitive on paper, but proved a fairly straightforward task for AF Senad under apprentice Nathan Crosse who, after a course double at the previous meeting, was taking his record to three wins from just four Sharjah mounts. It was also a memorable occasion for rookie trainer Kareem Ramadan, saddling his very first winner with just his tenth runner from his Al Ain Racecourse base. Owner Saleh Omar Ali bin Haidar was able to celebrate his first victory of the new campaign. In ten previous career outings, AF Senad had one runner-up and two third placings to his name, but lost his maiden tag in style, hitting the front 300m from home and soon going clear.

For 3-year-olds only, but again for horses foaled in the UAE, the 1000m maiden produced a thrilling finish with debutant ES Rubban trying grimly to cling on to the lead he had established passing the 300m pole only to be denied in the very final stride by Ashjaan.

The filly was making it third time lucky, her head in front only where it mattered under Fabrice Veron, riding for Eric Lemartinel and the trainer’s main patron, HH Sheikh . Connections would feel it was a deserved success as the filly had finished second on both previous starts, over 1000m then 1200m, also at Sharjah.

The fourth contest for those born locally, a 1700m handicap, was turned into a procession by JAP Al Yaasoob, a welcome belated first winner of the season for trainer Irfan Ellahi whose string returned to action this weekend having not been seen in public since early November. Settled just behind the speed by Szczepan Mazur, sporting the predominantly green silks of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the homebred 6-year-old entire grabbed the initiative leaving the home turn before pulling clear in the short straight. After 18 previous efforts, his sole previous victory was registered over this course and distance in early November 2019.

A capacity field of 16 may have gone to post for a 1700m maiden, but from a long way out only two mattered, AF Ramz leading with 500m to go under an industrious Tadhg O’Shea. They were stalked by a motionless Connor Beasley aboard Amirah and, once the jockey asked his mount for maximum effort, the pair dashed clear to post a clear cut success for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

The finale and sole Thoroughbred race, a 1200m handicap, attracted a field of 11, but very few ever looked likely to land the spoils, especially after Manhunter swept to the front at the halfway point.

Once in front the 5-year-old son of Elusive Quality galloped on resolutely under Ryan Curatolo with the race in safekeeping throughout the concluding 250m. In doing so, the gelding not only opened his own account, at the ninth attempt, but also that of his trainer, Mujeeb Rahman. In his third season with a license, the trainer’s previous 40 runners had mustered three second and five third place efforts, Manhunter contributing one of each. It was a third success for owner Marwan Abdul Rahman Mohd Sharif Al Baidhaei who had endured a couple of blank campaigns after a pair of winners, from just nine runners, three seasons ago.

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