Sharjah: Anthony Manuel’s stable favourite Knife makes an early appearance at his happy hunting ground at the Sharjah Equestrian Club when it stages its first race meeting of the new season on Saturday.
The seven-year-old son of Nez D’Or is known to reserve his best for the trip to the historic track in the Northern Emirates and is taken to win the feature race of the afternoon, a Conditions event for Purebred Arabians sponsored by the hosts Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club.
Manuel said he was looking forward to the race but had a word of caution concerning the rivals that his experienced campaigner faces.
“The thing we know is that conditions suit him and he loves it on the Sharjah dirt,” said the handler, who is based in Al ain.
“He seems in good form at home and normally runs well fresh so I am hoping he at least goes close but there is a decent field against him.”
Among his eight rivals is stable companion Bareq, who was runner-up when Knife won at this course in 2010.
However, he will need to show considerable improvement having running somewhat below expectations last season. Former champion handler Doug Watson saddles top weight Fantastique MHF, who has scored five times at Sharjah. The trainer acknowledged that the weight could prove a factor and said: “He has to give weight to the rest but he loves it at Sharjah and should run his usual solid race. He has been working well and has proved he can run a big race after a break.”
Ernst Oertel is two-handed with Kalahari Desert and Jazeerat Alsadyaat, both of whom are making their dirt debut. The only thoroughbred race on the card is a 1,200m maiden where Musabah Al Muhairi’s Grand Duchy catches the eye following his last outing run at Jebel Ali where he was second to Glenleven.
Three-time champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe saddles three runners inluding Shafgaan, Latkhaf and Unknown zone. Racing starts at 2.30pm and entrance is free.