Abu Dhabi: The winners of three previous editions of the prestigious HH The President Cup for Purebred Arabians return to vie for the Dh 1 million prize fund on offer in Sunday’s exciting renewal of the Group 1 contest at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Among them are Eric Lemartinel’s 2012 champion Nieshan, the Ernst Oertel-trained Seraphin Du Paon, winner of the race in 2011, and Majid Al Jahouri’s 2010 star Jarnin.
While Jarnin, at ten the oldest runner in a top-quality field, may find it difficult having not won a race in 13 starts since his 2010 victory, it will be fascinating to see Nieshan and Seraphin Du Paon go toe-to-toe in the 2,200m contest on turf.
A quarter of a length separated the two at the line in last year’s race and, with the richest purse for Purebred Arabians up for grabs, another thrilling finish looks imminent.
Apart from Seraphin Du Paon, Oertel also runs Frynchman.
Jarnin’s owner Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, has three other runners in the race, while Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, is strongly represented by three runners.
With Shaikh Hamdan’s retained jockey Paul Hanagan opting to ride the Erwan Charpy-trained Versac PY, the six-year-old son of Njewman is expected to garner a fair amount of support from the Pick Six followers. The winner of the Group 1 Emirates Championship here last year, Versac PY, was third to Seraphin Du Paon in the prep race and starts as a strong contender.
Tzar Du Paon, from Gill Duffield’s yard, is expected to better his UAE debut in the Maktoum Challenge First Round last month. Meanwhile, Tenor Des Vialettes is a promising six-year-old from Musabah Al Muhairi’s yard, having won four of his six starts, including the second and third rounds of the Arabian Triple Crown last season here.
Majid Al Jahouri also saddles Musharab and Naseem for Shaikh Mansour, two other strong contenders to make it a wide open contest in the Group 1 contest.
Earlier in the evening, Najem Al Khalij is back to defend the ADEC Gold Cup, a Prestige race worth Dh 100,000, with Jaci Wickham’s Kareem Wrsan likely to pose a strong challenge. But in this race, all eyes will be on Lemartinel’s AF Sanadek as the Burning Sand son bids to win his seventh race on the trot.
The Group 3 Al Ruwais will see Oertel represented by three runners: Frysk Me Now, Marjan Al Asayl and Wycked, the last of which finished second to Arabian Triple Crown Round One winner Shayel Aldhabi last month.
Majid Al Jahouri has in Thakif and Rakha two strong contenders in the colours of Shaikh Mansour, while Aqmaar under Hanagan gives Musabah Al Muhairi a strong chance. Lemartinel’s UAE debutant Bigg N Rich comes with a big reputation and is expected to make an impact.
First race: 1. Sheikh Down; 2. Madani
Second race: 1. AF Sanadek; 2. Kareem W’rsan
Third race: 1. Thakif; 2. Wycked
Fourth race: 1. Mooser; 2. Gabas Noor.
Fifth race: 1. Seraphin Du Paon; 2. Versac PY
Sixth race: 1. Dr. Faustus; 2. Mantoba
Day’s best: Seraphin Du Pao.