History-seeking Sharjah all set for Matheson Hurdle

Patrick Mullins hopes Sharjah can match Istabraq and Hurricane Fly in winning a fourth Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown on Wednesday.

The eight-year-old faces five rivals in the two-mile Grade One contest, including Zanahiyr and Echoes In Rain, who filled the places behind him in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month.

Sharjah is one of three representatives from the Willie Mullins yard and the trainer’s assistant and son continues his association with the five-time Grade One-winning hurdler.

Echoes In Rain will be ridden by Paul Townend, while Saint Roi, the mount of Rachael Blackmore, was fourth in the race last year and is having a first run since February when he was fourth to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Mullins jnr said: “We’re really looking forward to Sharjah, he seems to love it in Leopardstown.

“If he could emulate Hurricane Fly and Istabraq that would be very, very special.

“It looks like the ground will be good for him, he’s done really well since since the Morgiana and it’s all systems go – I can’t wait.”

He added: “Echoes In Rain is better than her run at Punchestown. I think the slow pace counted against her there. I’d be wary of her.

“Saint Roi we all think is better than he showed last year. Obviously he’s had a long lay-off, but neither of them would be a surprise winner.

“They’re both Grade One horses and we’re very happy with both of them at home.”

Gordon Elliott saddles the other three in the line-up, with Zanahiyr having to find three lengths with Sharjah on their Morgiana Hurdle running. Petit Mouchoir and Felix Desjy complete the line-up.

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