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Abu Dhabi Launches Season With G3 Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan Cup

Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak World Championships Also Headlines

The culmination of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak World Championships and the valuable Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, are the undoubted highlights as racing returns to the Abu Dhabi turf on Sunday evening.

With a Dhs420,000 prize fund, the 1600m Group 3 feature has attracted a strong field and Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, who started the season in great form, saddles both Richlore and Shayel Aldhabi.

Apprentice, Daniel Muscutt, who cannot utilise his claim, rides Richlore with stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea on the stable companion who looks a big threat to all.

“They are two nice mares who have progressed with their racing,” said Oertel.”Shayel Aldhabi is dropping down markedly in grade and these are probably her optimum conditions. She should go close as she is in great form at home.

“Richlore is also working well and was a revelation at the start of the year, improving all the time. It is always nice to have two good chances in such a race.”

Jockey Royston Ffrench is another in flying form at the start of the new campaign and he rides AF Lafeh for Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

He should not be far away, along with Albar Lotois, representing the ever powerful Eric Lemartiel/Gerald Avranche combination.

The meeting concludes with HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies (IFAHR) World Championship with 13 female jockeys from around the world set to do battle over 1600m.

Lemartinel saddles Bigg N Rich who looks the one to beat under Anna Van Den Troost from Belgium.

“The horse is fit and well and we are well dawn. I don’t know a lot about the jockey but have to be hopeful he at least goes close," said Lemartinel.

Oertel has no less than four runners in the race with Molahen El Alhan arguably the most interesting having finished last season with two victories. He is the mount of Jadey Pietrasiewicz from Holland.

“He is in great form,” said Oertel. “We expect him to improve again this year so this looks a good starting point and we have drawn a good jockey.”

Earlier on the card, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey (IFAHR) World Championship, over 2200m, features 14 international young jockeys.

Again Oertel saddles a quartet and his Najm Alemarat looks a leading hope under Frenchman Gianni Saffia but faces stiff competition from the Majed Al Jahouri-trained duo Ghalib and Merzal.

As always there is just one Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1600m handicap and the maximum field of 16 have been declared. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns for of the runners with retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, electing to partner Mujrayaat for trainer, Doug Watson. With both the handler and pilot in good form he looks a major player but is drawn wide which is a concern.

Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen enjoyed a double at Meydan on Thursday and combine with Ramonti Flash who is also drawn wide but looks the type to enjoy a good season.