The Arab runners at the climax to the flat-racing season

Updated 21 October 2017
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The Arab runners at the climax to the flat-racing season

Five Middle Eastern-owned horses to look out for on Qipco British Champions Day:
Sheikhzayedroad – Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup:
Named after the iconic motorway in Dubai and owned by Emirati Mohammed Jaber, Sheikhzayedroad defends his crown after an underwhelming season without a win. His season would have been geared toward this, however.
Harry Angel – Qipco British Champions Sprint:
Godolphin’s sprinter has matured from being a hot-headed colt who was harried out of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June by Coolmore’s Caravaggio and his stable mates. A much more mature runner now after wins in the July Cup and Sprint Cup, he is a champion in waiting.
Bateel – Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares:
Owned by the Al-Asayl operation of the Abu Dhabi Royal family, Bateel’s connections will be at Ascot today with a big smile on their face. After 7mm of rain in 24 hours on Friday morning, the going at Ascot was left soft all over. Bateel has never suffered defeat in five starts on soft ground, and is a proven Group One winner.
Ribchester – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes:
If Glorious Goodwood had not suffered torrential downpours in August then Ribchester would be undefeated in Europe this season. As it is, Godolphin’s exceptional miler went down by inches to today’s rival Here Comes When in the Sussex Stakes. The 4-year-old, trained by Richard Fahey in Yorkshire, has since proven himself in soft ground in France and holds a leading chance.
Poet’s Word – Qipco Champion Stakes:
All eyes will naturally fall on Cracksman and Barney Roy, the two top 3-year-olds in the showpiece event but older horses have won seven of the last eight and UAE businessman Saeed Suhail has a great chance with lightly-raced and improving 4-year-old Poet’s Word.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."