Abu Dhabi: While in-form Al Asayl trainer Ernst Oertel will be looking for another good outing at this evening’s Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club race meeting, the spotlight is likely to be focused on the only thoroughbred race in the six-event card.
Run over a mile, the Rajai handicap has attracted a strong field of 14 contenders including three runners owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, with the most fancied of these likely to be Entifaadha. The former Group 3 winner in England will be ridden by former two-time British champion jockey Paul Hanagan for Emirati handler Musabah Al Muhairi, whose Oasis 1 stable looks to be in red-hot form after saddling four winners at Jebel Ali on Friday.
Hanagan, who is Shaikh Hamdan’s retained rider, said: “He [Entifaadha] ran well on his one start this season in a decent 1400 metre conditions race on the all-weather at Meydan.
“He should appreciate this step up to 1600 metres and the return to turf. Hopefully a big run will see him improve his chances of a run at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.”
Entifaadha will have to face the challenge of two other horses owned by Shaikh Hamdan — the Al Muhairi-trained Musaafer, who will be ridden by Dane O’Neill and the Doug Watson’s Mujrayaat, the mount of Ted Durcan. Al Muhairi must also fancy the chances of his third runner in the race, Maath Gool, who is a course and distance winner this season.
In the remaining five Purebred Arabian contests, Oertel looks well represented in the second and sixth race of the night. In the Sadeem Handicap over a mile, Oertel runs three — Al Mouttakel (Tadhg O’Shea), Jazeerat Alsadyaat (Patrick Cosgrave) and Najm Al Emarat (Adrian Nicholls).
However, it is the concluding Tibet Conditions Stakes over 2200, that looks to be the picks of the evening’s races. The Al Asayl handler, who saddled a three-timer at this course last week, appears to have a strong hand with a formidable entry of four horses led by Callateral, the choice of stable jockey O’Shea. Sam Hitchcott’s Forgehill Cezanne, Nicholls’ Swyft and Royston Ffrench’s Richly Blessed complete the foursome.
“All four would have a chance in what looks an open race,” said Oertel, who has saddled 23 winners this season.
The main threat could be the Eric Lemartinel-trained Simbar Du Loup, who won a similar race last week but has been penalised for that victory.
However, his rider Gerald Avranche remained hopeful. “He did it well last week and can hopefully improve on that,” he said. “This is probably a better race but we at least know conditions suit him.”
Al Waqqad, who was second on the occasion, will hope to reverse the form under Richard Mullen, who takes the ride for trainer Tony Manuel.