AF Al Sajanjle In Top Form for Sundays Abu Dhabi Feature Race

The Emirates Colts Classic is the highlight on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. This is a 1600m Prestige contest, in which Ernst Oertel appears to have a very strong hand, headed by AF Al Sajanjle, the mount of Richard Mullen.

A winner on his debut last November, the four year old grey Colt was then runner-up, albeit a ten length second, in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship behind the very useful Maisoor before finishing well beaten behind the same horse in the Arabian Triple Crown R1.

All three races were over this 1600m and Sunday’s contest represents a drop in class, one he looks likely to take advantage of.

“Conditions obviously suit him and he is a nice colt,” said Mullen. “We would have to be hopeful of a big run and the stable look to have three decent chances.”

Mullen’s mount is homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, as are his stable companions, AF Maher and AF Yatrooq, the mounts of Chris Hayes and Antonio Fresu respectively.

Both have one win to their name, from five starts apiece and have decent claims in a race where few among the 13 declared can be seriously fancied.

HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has owned the winner of this particular race in each of the past three seasons and he has three chances this year, all trained by Eric Lemartinel.

However, two of the trio remain maidens so it is no surprise Tadhg O’Shea has elected to partner Mahfouz, a 1400m maiden winner on the course this January, followed by a fifth finish in handicap company over 1600m earlier this month.

Returning to his own four-year-old age group should be in his favour and he looks the main danger to the Oertel trio.

“Mr Oertel looks to have three good chances,” said O’Shea. “But Mahfouz won nicely on debut and was not disgraced last time. He has been working nicely since and should run well.”

Of the remainder, Al Tiryaq, to be ridden by Sam Hitchcott for Abdallah Al Hammadi, is expected to fare best having stayed on strongly to win a 1400m course maiden on his last outing. That effort, on his third career outing, suggested this extra 200m would be in his favour.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 2200m handicap and ten will go to post after the withdrawal of Zambucca, trained by Satish Seemar, who still has two other runners in the contest.

Stable jockey, Mullen, chooses to partner Town’s History, a 2000m turf winner at Meydan in January who should stay the extra 200m here. Marc Monaghan rides his stable companion, Toolain.

Whistle Stop trained by Mike de Kock takes a drop in grade with Jim Crowley riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

After two solid runs at Meydan, he has twice disappointed, all in competitive Dubai World Cup Carnival handicaps, but this is an easier assignment.

Crowley could have ridden the same owner’s Jaaref, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and the mount of stable jockey, O’Shea.

“He has been working very nicely and the trip will hopefully suit him,” said O’Shea. “We expect him to go close.”