Badar Al Hajri couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate his first winner in the UAE.
The Omani trainer picked up the feature prize, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup – a race with prestige handicap status, in Sharjah’s final meeting on Saturday.
“It indeed is a great way to celebrate the first winner in the UAE,” Al Hajri said after Omani jockey Al Moatasem Al Balushi brought home Al Mufham SB with a strong late run to clinch the 1,700-metre race.
“He’s run well back in Muscat, winning three races in a row on the dirt and we tried him on the turf in Abu Dhabi nearly a month ago before bringing him to Sharjah. He seems to like the dirt.”
Al Balushi came from the outside with a challenge to pip compatriot Saif Al Balushi on board AF Ramz and Fernando Jara on Munfared to the winning post in a photo finish.
“I thought I was going to get there and luckily my horse really stuck his head out where it mattered,” Al Balushi said of the four-year-old Big Easy colt.
“I know the horse well from Oman and was pretty confident he would run well. And he really did.”
Doug Watson won the solitary prize for thoroughbreds in the six-race card to take his tally to 38 winners to go two ahead of Ernst Oertel in the UAE trainer’s championship race.
The Red Stables trainer’s Falcon Claw, under Szczerpan Mazur, came from the back of the field to win from Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s Mears with Sandro Paiva in the saddle by five and-a-half lengths.
“I was very pleased to be asked to ride him because you always know the Watson horses are going to be in with a chance,” Mazur said of his 22nd winner of the season.
“He has travelled well and then really quickened. It was impressive.”
On Sunday, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club will host their final meeting of the season, highlighted by the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown Round 3 for four-year-olds.