Dubai World Cup: Ernst Oertel targets final-straight flourish

Champion trainer stokes rivalry between Abu Dhabi and Dubai ahead of Dubai World Cup night.

Animal Kingdom, pictured, and Royal Delta took to the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse for the first time yesterday morning since arriving from America earlier this week. Both horses are among the favourites for Saturday’s Dubai World Cup.
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DUBAI // Ernst Oertel aims to apply the gilt to his maiden UAE championship season by striking for Abu Dhabi on Dubai World Cup night on Saturday.

The Al Asayl trainer was effectively crowned UAE champion trainer at Jebel Ali on Friday and has five runners across the US$27.25 million (Dh100m) card at Meydan Racecourse.

Oertel runs the thoroughbreds Capital Attraction in the Godolphin Mile, Ganas in the Al Quoz Sprint and Averroes in the Dubai Gold Cup for Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa, but is also well represented in the Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians.

Seraphin Du Paon bids to make up for his defeat to TM Fred Texas in the 2,000m contest 12 months ago, while TM Junior Johnson, a full brother to last year's winner, will also run for the South African trainer in the Group 1 event.

Both horses are owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, and Oertel would like nothing more than to cap his campaign by delivering the Ruler of Abu Dhabi a winner on the most valuable night in international racing.

"For Abu Dhabi people it would be great," Oertel told The National. "There is always this Abu Dhabi versus Dubai rivalry and it would be a dream for our owners to have a winner on World Cup night. It would be great for the Al Asayl team - you can see it means a lot to them, too."

Oertel's success at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club in tandem with the jockey Tadhg O'Shea this season has been the foundation to his championship bid.

Sheikh Khalifa sits on top of the owners standings ahead of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and between them the two owners have won more races than the next six in the standings.

Overall Oertel leads Musbah Al Muhairi by one winner. He boasts more second-placed finishers than his nearest rival, who saddles only Russian Rock in the Al Quoz Sprint on Saturday and Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who trails Oertel by three winners, does not have the numbers at Meydan to bridge the gap.

"I told Tadhg he would be champion jockey at the beginning of the season," Oertel said.

"He probably thought I was being big-headed and clever but I know the tracks better and my training facility better this season so hopefully we can have a good campaign next year as well."

For now though, Oertel's efforts will be channelled towards trying to add to his haul of four winners at the region's flagship track.

As far as his thoroughbred runners are concerned, Oertel was most sweet about the chances of Ganas, who switches to turf and 1,000m for the first time this season. In three runs at Meydan this year the five year old has been leading at the 900-metre mark only to be overhauled as he failed to see out 1,200m.

"We always wanted to run him over 1,000 but because he was improving over 1,200 we thought we would stick with what we know," Oertel said.

"Literally the last fifty he just dies so hopefully the Al Quoz is perfect for him. The firmer the surface the better and as he almost broke the track record at Meydan, so let's see."