Abu Dhabi: Champion trainer Ernst Oertel lived up to his reputation by clinching two of the three feature races for Purebred Arabian juveniles at the Abu Dhabi Race Course on Sunday evening.
Adrie de Vries, taking the place of suspended stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, impressed by leading Nymphea Du Paon to a local debut victory in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship.
Nymphea Du Paon, a Group 2 winner in her native France, has now won three races in four starts.
The Dutchman was also instrumental in winning the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic on board Fatat Al Arab and was also runner-up on Molahen El Alham in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic in the six-race card.
“They are very nice fillies and ran true to their potential. I haven’t done a true piece of work on her [Nymphea Du Paon] and was a bit worried about her fitness. She proved me wrong,” Oertel said. “I was a little bit disappointed of the colt [Molahen El Alham], though. He was green and still a baby. We took the blinkers off because I thought it would help him but it was a mistake.”
De Vries had Nymphea Du Paon in front after the 200m mark and then kept pulling away and eventually won by five-and-three-quarter lengths from Swwing under Ted Durcan. Stable-mate Burj Khalifa, ridden by James Doyle, was a further three-and-quarter lengths behind and had to settle for the third spot.
De Vries was also all praise for Nymphea Du Paon, but revealed that he was concerned at the start. “She is a very nice filly indeed. The wide draw was a bit of a concern but I was able to get across and there was never any real worry after that.
“She should have a big future and is an exciting new recruit, who has not been in the UAE very long.”
Speaking about the first race, the Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic, which provided Oertel with both first and second places, De Vries said: “I had Fatat Al Arab placed in a nice position and didn’t have to do much until I took her to the front. She then did it very nicely for me. This is a good opportunity for me but obviously you have to feel sorry for Tadhg O’Shea.”
Had De Vries and Oertel won race two — the Abu Dhabi Colts’ Classic — they would have completed a clean sweep. However, Royston Ffrench dashed their hopes by riding AF al Hazer to victory ahead of Molahen El Alhan. Third place was bagged by Mahdi ridden by Noel Garbutt. Ffrench, in his third career start for trainer Ebrahim Al Hadhrami, helped his mount retain his unbeaten record.
“He is a really nice young horse and an exciting prospect. I won on him on his debut when he was very green and a big baby. I then deserted him last time and he won well under Harry Bentley. He is improving and has a nice turn of foot so you can ride him with a bit of confidence,” said an elated Ffrench.
Later, trainer Satish Seemar and jockey Richard Mullen continued their fine run by winning the only Thoroughbred race, a 2200m handicap with Inthar. Finishing second was Mutayaser ridden by Ahmad Ajtebi, while Sam Hitchcock on Henry Clay came third.
The 1600m maiden provided the Jaber Bittar-trained Bayan the perfect opportunity to open his account with Pat Cosgrave.