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Juvenile Purebred Arabian Tests at Abu Dhabi Sunday

The three-year-old Purebred Arabians take centre stage at Abu Dhabi this Sunday with the three feature races all restricted to the 3yo juvenile crop.

Pride of place goes to the Abu Dhabi Championship, a 1600m Listed contest, for which ten were declared but only nine are set to face the starter after the late defection of RB Calumbo.

Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel appears to have a strong hand throughout the card and saddles two in this race with Nymphea Du Paon, making her local debut, appearing the first string.

With stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea suspended, Adrie de Vries rides with James Doyle aboard stable companion Burj Khalifa, also making his first UAE start.

“Nymphea Du Paon is a really nice filly,” said Oertel. “Her form in Europe is pretty strong and she has really settled in well since arriving here. We expect her to run a big race on her first start for us.

“We are well represented because Burj Khalifa is a nice horse as well and certainly has the ability to be competitive at this level. He has been off the track for six months and will certainly improve with this run under his belt but should be thereabouts.”

The six race card opens with the Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic, again for three-year-olds over 1600m but only for fillies foaled in the UAE. Again Oertel is well represented with three runners on this occasion.

De Vries again appears to ride the stable’s main hope, Fatat Al Arab, runner-up on her debut at Abu Dhabi before winning a Sharjah maiden. She is joined in the field by stable companions and fellow Sharjah winners Afaal and AlYawazi.

Oertel said: “They are three nice fillies and it would be hard to split them – we hope they all have a serious chance in what looks an open race.”

That race is followed by the Abu Dhabi Colts’ Classic and, yet again, Oertel appears to hold a leading chance with Molahen El Alhan. The winner of both his starts, at Abu Dhabi and once over this 1600m trip, he seeks to maintain his unbeaten record with De Vries again replacing O’Shea.

Oertel said: “Molahen El Ahlan has done nothing wrong in his short career so far and you would have to at least hope he has a massive chance on what he has shown so far.

“We expect a big run.”

The only Thoroughbred race on the card is the concluding 2200m handicap and appears ultra competitive with a case to be made for most of the 13 declared runners.

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is particularly well represented with five runners and his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, chooses to ride Watheeq. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Watheeq has won both of his last two starts, on dirt at Sharjah, and arrives here at the top of his game. ‘

The Doug Watson-trained Henry Clay was a winner at Jebel Ali last weekend and, if allowed an easy lead, should be a serious danger to all 12 rivals.