Dubai: Italian jockey Antonio Fresu produced an incisive front-running ride aboard the former French-trained Sharpalo to upset several big names and win the featured Shadwell Condition Stakes at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday.
Fresu, the new stable jockey to long-time Dubai based French handler Erwan Charpy, rode the four-year-old son of Shamardal with remarkable confidence to win the 1800 metre contest by a length and a half from Mizbah, the mount of Pat Dobbs, while Good Trip, with champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea in the irons, was a neck back in third.
Frescu’s sense of positioning in a race which featured 2015 Group 3 Jebel Ali Stakes winners Jutland and Interpret, who won the race the previous year, was the key and underlined the strength of a horse who saw off the test in convincing fashion.
Sharpalo, who is with Al Aasfa Stables-based Ahmad Bin Harmash, was purchased by Hamdan Al Mansoori from owner-breeders Wetheimer & Frere.
Earlier in the afternoon luck shone on Paolo Sirigu, a work rider for Saeed Bin Surour at Godolphin, when he scored with a last-minute spare ride.
Sirigu was on his way home when his booked ride, Hundred Steps, was withdrawn from the opening race, when trainer Bin Harmash offered him the ride aboard Tides Ride, as regular jockey Colm O’Donoghue could not make the weight.
As luck would have it, Tides Rise ran a cracker of a race to win the Al Shafar Handicap by a nose from Shaakis, with Marxian a short-head back in third.
“I was ready to go home because my only ride for the afternoon was scratched,” said Sirigu. “Then Ahmad Bin Harmash asked if I could ride Tides Rise as Colm could not make the weight.
“Of course I said yes as 53kgs was a weight to do. The trainer assured me that he was an easy horse to ride and to keep things simple.
“I followed the instructions but my horse is very game as he showed in the tight finish. All three horses crossed the line together and I wasn’t sure if we had won. But when the judge called my horse I was very happy. It’s nice to get a winner here in Dubai,” added Sirigu, who has ridden 200 winners in his native Italy and 15 in the UK.
Bin Harmash would go on to complete a hat-trick of wins when Al Barez won the Commercial Bank of Dubai Handicap under Dane O’Neill.
The winner scored by three quarters of a length from Pictograph, the mount of Bin Harmash’s stable jockey Colm O’Donoghue.
“It takes a bit of doing up here first time out,” said O’Neill. “He may have looked like he was travelling off the bridle a little bit but it was just a little green.
“But every time I asked him a question he kept finding an answer and just gave me more. He quickened nicely at the two furlong pole. He’s very game, very professional, he knuckled in pretty well,” O’Neill added.
“He’s a very progressive and very willing little horse with a good attitude. So fingers crossed he can go onwards and upwards.”
Just a few days after picking up some useful riding tips from former Emirati jockey Aziz Al Redha, UAE apprentice Saeed Al Marzoui put them to good use to win the Al Redha Insurance Brokers LLC Handicap aboard the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Najm Suhail.
It was Al Marzoui’s fifth winner of the season and 36th of his career.