Storylines aplenty at Abu Dhabi Equestrian’s final meet of season

Several scenarios have come together to create excitement for the final meeting of the season at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday night.

Trainer Ernst Oertel will send Nymphea Du Paon to contest the UAE Arabian Derby at Abu Dhabi Equestrain Club on Sunday night, where Eric Lemartinel's Swwing will be waiting. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // Several scenarios have come together to create excitement for the final meeting of the season at the capital’s racecourse on Sunday evening.

Emirati trainer Majed Al Jahouri is bidding for a seventh Group 1 prize for Purebred Arabians while Ernst Oertel's Nymphea Du Paon and Eric Lemartinel's Swwing renew a fierce rivalry in the UAE Arabian Derby.

Al Jahouri has won every Group 1 prize for Arabians this season so far for his principal owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and a seventh is a distinct possibility with the pair having four of the 11 runners in the Emirates Championship.

A win would leave just victory in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night to achieve a clean sweep this season for the Al Wathba Stables trainer-owner combination.

“Naseem and Musharab would have to be our best chances in the race,” Al Jahouri said. “Naseem already has a big-race win to his name this year. That was over 1600m on the all-weather and this 2200m trip suits him better, as does the turf. He should have a big chance.

“Musharab has been running well enough and these are his optimum conditions. We expect another big run from him but Merzal and Rasikh need to improve on what they have shown here in the UAE. Their French form was good but they have yet to transfer it.

“It has been a great season so far and hopefully that can continue on Sunday.”

In the UAE Arabian Derby, Lemartinel gets an opportunity to prove a point after Swwing was stripped of his win over Oertel’s Nymphea Du Paon for interference in the Arabian Triple Crown Round 3 two weeks ago.

Swwing under Ted Durcan hung badly and forced Tadhg O’Shea to restrain Nymphea Du Paon on the rails at the 200m mark.

O’Shea regained the lead before Swwing rallied close from home to win by a short head, only to be relegated after an objection from O’Shea was upheld by the stewards. The decision to strip Swwing from that victory left Lemartinel gutted.

“My horse lost the lead but he fought back and was first over the line. In my opinion the result should have stood. I am not happy we lost the race in the steward’s room,” the Frenchman said.

It was the first time in three meetings Lemartinel’s colt finished ahead of Oertel’s filly and today’s rematch is chance for both horses to prove a point. The capital’s meeting concludes with the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship for the thoroughbreds in which Mike de Kock bids to repeat the success he had with Mr Brock in 2009 in what looks like a wide open race.

Doug Watson’s Jutland won this prize last year but has not won since, despite some eye-catching runs in defeat this season and a creditable fourth in the Dubai Gold Cup on the Dubai World Cup meeting last March.

“We know conditions suit him and he has faced a few stiff tasks this year but, on the whole, ran well. He seems to save his best for this time of year and he should run his normal genuine race,” Watson said.

De Kock’s best hope is Mashreq, considered a Dubai Duty Free contender in the Dubai World Cup in two weeks.

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