SHARJAH // Course and distance specialists Knife and Bin Shamardal landed the featured races at Sharjah on Saturday with the former making all in the concluding 1,700m conditions race under Ahmed Ajtebi.
Trained by Tony Manuel, he was posting a fifth Sharjah win at this trip and is a real favourite of the trainer, who said: "He just loves it here for some reason and Ahmed gave him a great ride today.
"Knife is only tiny but has a big heart and loves to bowl along in front and hates to be passed. He really battles and gives his all."
Earlier, stable companion Tahdeed was the impressive winner of the opening 1,200m maiden with Richard Mullen in the saddle.
Settled in midfield behind a ferocious early gallop, Mullen's mount made smooth progress to the lead at 300m and ran on nicely to the delight of his trainer, who said: "His work at home was good so we thought he would go well and it is great he has won. With luck, he is a nice young horse."
The only thoroughbred race on the card was a 2,000m handicap and Bin Shamardal registered his third such victory for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi under stable jockey Wayne Smith.
The pair went to the front a long way out with Smith making a decisive move when committing for home 500m out, after which they never looked likely to be caught.
"He just seems to love it here and stays the 2,000m well so I was more than happy to kick for home a long way out," Smith said. "He goes well enough at Meydan but does seem to save his best for here."
The other three races, all maidens, provided the perfect opportunity for firsts.
Jockey Adrie de Vries opened his account for the season when partnering Abu Al Maarek to an all the way victory in a second 1200m maiden.
Trained by Jaber Bittar, the winner beat only one rival on his sole previous start but broke smartly here and was never headed despite wandering all over the track in the closing stages.
"He is just a baby learning about the game," De Vries said.
"He was getting tired and probably a bit lonely but showed a good turn of foot and should improve with racing."
Trainer Gill Duffield was another to register a first success of the campaign with Paul Hanagan making virtually every yard of the running on her King Sakbe in a 1,700m maiden with the pair pulling well clear of their rivals.
"This was his easiest task for a few runs and he did it very well," Hanagan said.
"I was always in command."
However, his victory was not as easy as that of AF Kamaash in a second 1,700m maiden with Xavier Ziani performing the steering and providing trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami with his very first winner with his 27th runner.
"His last run was a good one and he has won that in great style having travelled strongly and quickened very well," Ziani said.