Super Sharjah stamps class on Morgiana Hurdle with commanding Grade One success

Patrick Mullins has ridden Sharjah in plenty of big-race success but could have ridden favourite Echoes In Rain who disappointed back in third; Sharjah looks set to return at Christmas at Leopardstown

Sharjah, ridden by Patrick Mullins, (left) races clear of the last on the way to winning the Matheson Hurdle from Petit Mouchoir
Image: Sharjah, ridden by Patrick Mullins, (left)

Sharjah rewarded Patrick Mullins' loyalty when reclaiming his title in the Grade One Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

The eight-year-old took the contest in 2018 and is a regular presence among the placed runners in the top-calibre hurdle contests, a status that saw him start as the 6-4 favourite.

He faced only two opponents with the late withdrawals of reigning champion Abacadabras and Joseph O'Brien's Darasso leaving only Gordon Elliott's Zanahiyr and stablemate Echoes In Rain to challenge him.

Patrick Mullins celebrates after Saldier's victory in the Galway Hurdle
Image: Patrick Mullins celebrates after Saldier's victory in the Galway Hurdle

A faultless round of jumping had the smooth-travelling Champion Hurdle runner-up well placed to take the lead over the last, after which he happily pulled clear of Zanahiyr to prevail by three lengths, with Grand One-winning mare Echoes In Rain a further 12 lengths behind.

"He runs his race every day and he has a little bit of class. He's a wonderful servant to have around the place," said Willie Mullins.

"I'd imagine he'll go back to Leopardstown at Christmas, all being well.

Zanahiyr ran out an impressive winner of the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal last month
Image: Zanahiyr ran out an impressive winner of the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal last month

"It was very tactical, but the way it played out played into Sharjah's hands."

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Of Echoes In Rain's disappointing performance, the trainer said: "They went a bit too slow for the filly. She was too buzzy and didn't jump well enough at that slow pace.

"She has a lot of improvement to do, but hopefully she will improve."

Willie Mullins
Image: Willie Mullins

Patrick Mullins opted to keep with Sharjah over Echoes In Rain, a decision that proved wise as the bay provided him with his first triumph in the race.

"The race played out ideal for me," he said.

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"He jumped great, he was out-jumping Davy (Russell on Zanahiyr) and I kept pulling him back. It turned into a sprint which suited him.

"He's given me some great days, but a lot of credit has to go to David Porter and Eilish Byrne who look after him and ride him out.

"I'm very grateful to Rich Ricci because I've got to ride this horse ahead of the number one jockey a couple of times.

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"I could have ridden Echoes In Rain today, but I wanted to stay loyal to Sharjah and luckily it's paid off.

"He doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's like Santa - I can't wait for Christmas now!"

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