Sharjah // a Shahin Shah got Rod Simpson off the mark at the Sharjah Equestrian Club today. The Al Asayl trainer narrowly missed out on saddling a winner in the season-opener at the Jebel Ali Racecourse yesterday when Surprise Package went down by a neck to Escape Route, but the four-year-old Muhtathir gelding made sure his handler got off the mark. Shahin Shah, under the Australian Gaven Birrer, drew clear from the 400-metre pole to win by 2-1/2 lengths from Gulf Of Gold and Kerashan in the handicap rated 0-65 for thoroughbreds and run over 1,700 metres.
Simpson said: "He was expected to win first time out and he didn't disappoint. He has run pretty well last season and have trained well. It could have been two from two if Surprise Package wasn't touched off on Friday." The jockey Wayne Smith rode a double and the trainers shared the honours by saddling a winner each in the seven-race card. Rashed Bouresly took the first of the two races for the thoroughbreds when Jamal Hafez rode Summer Games first past the winning post. The Storming Home filly edged out Skycruiser and Lunar Landscape in the Maiden run over 1,700m.
In the rest of the races for the Purebred Arabians, the Emirati trainers Ahmed al Shamsi and Majed al Jahouri took the first two races with Meshwar and Knife, both maiden races for the local breds. Smith was onboard Meshwar for the first of his two winners and Jesus Rosales rode the Nez D'or colt half-an-hour later. David Badel on Ballerina took the next for the Sharjah-based Lebanese trainer, Saifaldin Deeb.
Ali Rashid al Raihe's CS Charma, under Royston Ffrench, won the fifth event on the card. Smith was back in the winner's enclosure on the Bakhit al Ketbi-trained GRP Midhish in the final race. email@example.com