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First Round of Arabian Triple Crown Headlines Abu Dhabi Sunday

Molahen El Alhan
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Abu Dhabi’s first meeting of 2014, on Sunday, is highlighted by the Arabian Triple Crown R1, a 1600m Listed contest for Purebred Arabians and 14 have been declared.

Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel, who has 14 runners declared throughout the evening, is responsible for three in the feature, including Nymphea Du Paon, a winner on her local debut a fortnight ago. That was in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship, over the same 1600m course and distance but she is penalised here as a result of that victory.

Perhaps significantly, Adrie De Vries, who rode her on that occasion in the absence of suspended stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, partners stable companion Molahen El Alhan on this occasion with James Doyle on Nymphea Du Paon.

De Vries’ mount also carries a penalty and, on his most recent start, was runner-up in the Abu Dhabi Colts’ Classic. Burj Khalifa, third to Nymphea Du Paon, last time, completes the trainer’s trio with Noel Garbutt aboard.

De Vries said: “It is a great opportunity to ride these good Purebred Arabian horses but obviously you have to feel sorry for Tadhg O’Shea.

“All three in this race are nice horses and I won well on Nymphea Du Paon last time, while Molahen El Alhan ran a good race in defeat on the same card. There should be little between them.”

Molahen El Alhan chased home AF Al Hazer on that occasion and the Ibrahim Al Hadhrami-trained runner looks a big danger under Royston Ffrench. They do have to concede weight all round but Ffrench said: “He has done absolutely nothing wrong, winning all three career starts, and we have to be hopeful of another big run, despite his penalty.”

French handler Eric Lemartinel who trains on the Abu Dhabi course, always has to be feared in these contests and saddles both Swwing (CORRECT) and Major, second and fourth respectively behind Nymphea Du Paon a fortnight ago.

The only Thoroughbred race is the concluding 2400m handicap and Doug Watson saddles three, including Mantoba and Dr Faustus, first and third on this card 12 months ago in a 2200m handicap.

As was the case then, Kieren Fallon rides Mantoba with Pat Dobbs aboard Dr Faustus. Udabaa, a course and distance winner three weeks ago, completes the trainer’s trio with Paul Hanagan riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid A Maktoum.

Watson said: “All three are going well at home but the draw could have been kinder for Dr Faustus in particular. Udabaa won well last time and Mantoba goes well at Abu Dhabi so we have to be hopeful in a wide open looking race.”

Inthar, trained by Satish Seemar and the mount of Richard Mullen, is another to win on his most recent start, over 2200m on this course three weeks ago, while Musabah Al Muhairi, fresh from a four timer at Meydan on Thursday, relies on Rasmy, the mount of Dane O’Neill.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Mulaqat won the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship, over 2200m, in 2008 andis joined in the field by stable companion Swinging Sixties.