Doug Watson lands Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Cup for second straight year

Far Sky cruises to comfortable victory under Buckell in Sharjah for his biggest career prize

George Buckell rides Far Sky to win the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup at Sharjah on Saturday, November 27, 2021. ERA

Far Sky claimed his biggest career prize in 12 career starts by running away a convincing winner of the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup in Sharjah’s second race meeting of the season on Saturday.

The Doug Watson-trained four-year-old, with George Buckell on board, took up the running 300 metres from home to win from Monoski and Harbour Spirit by two and-a-half lengths and a length and-a-quarter respectively.

Xavier Ziani, on Monosk, and Adrie de Vries, on Harbour Spirit, produced strong late runs from the back of the field but Buckell’s mount had plenty left in the tank for his second outing of the season and second career win.

Watson won this prize 12 months ago with Galvanize, and the American was delighted to again win the race named in honour of the man who gave him his chance to train from Red Stables.

“Obviously we are very pleased to win this race again and I owe Sheikh Hamdan so much and will be eternally grateful to him,” said Watson, who took his tally to 12 wins for the season.

“That was a good performance from both horse and jockey in what looked a decent race.”

The indomitable jockey-trainer-owner partnership of Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah set the ball rolling by claiming the opener with AF Yakhtem, the first of the five prizes for the Purebred Arabians in the six-race card.

O’Shea kicked for home on the 400m mark to win by six and-a-half lengths in front of ES Ajab.

“That is the perfect start to the afternoon and a good performance,” Al Naboodah said. “As I always say, I have a great team behind me with a top jockey and trainer. They deserve a lot of credit four our success.”

Majed Al Jahouri wrapped up the next two races with Wadheha under Brazilian Bernardo Pinheiro, and Ashtr with Omani apprentice Saif Al Balushi, both in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s Al Wathba Stables.

“I rode her for the first time at Al Ain when she showed a lot of speed so we really thought coming here over 1,200m would be ideal and she has not disappointed,” Pinheiro said of Wadheha.

Majdi under Sam Hitchcock provided Abdallah Al Hammadi his ninth winner of the season while De Vries gave trainer Mohamed Ibrahim his first win by taking the concluding handicap.

Results:

2pm: Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m

Winner: AF Yakhtem, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)

2.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner: Wadheha, Bernardo Pinheiro, Majed Al Jahoury

3pm: Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,000m

Winner: Ashtr, Saif Al Balushi, Majed Al Jahouri

3.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner: Majdi, Sam Hitchcott, Abdallah Al Hammadi

4pm: Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup – Handicap (TB) 200,000 (D) 1,700m

Winner: Far Sky, George Buckell, Doug Watson

4.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,700m

Winner: AF Al Maher, Adrie de Vries, Mohamed Ibrahim

Updated: November 27th 2021, 3:56 PM