25 February 2017, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ The Emirates Colts Classic is the highlight for Sunday, 26 February, at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, a 1600m Prestige race. In this contest Ernst Oertel appears to have a very strong hand with AF Al Sajanjle at the top of the list, the mount of Richard Mullen.
After winning his debut last November, the four-year old grey colt was then runner-up, albeit a ten length second in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship behind the very talented Maisoor before finishing well beaten behind the same horse in the Arabian Triple Crown R1. All three races were over this 1600m, and Sunday’s contest, which represents a drop in class is one he most likely can take.
“Conditions obviously suit him and he is a nice colt,” said Mullen. “We would have to be hopeful of a big run and the stable look to have three decent chances.”
Mullen’s mount is homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda (AF AL BURAQ), as are his stable companions AF Maher and AF Yatrooq, the mounts of Chris Hayes and Antonio Fresu respectively.
Both have one win to their name from five starts apiece and have decent claims in a race where few among the 13 declared might be seriously fancied.
HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has owned the winner of this particular race in each of the past three seasons and he has three chances this year, all trained by Eric Lemartinel.
However, two of the trio remain with maiden status, so it is no surprise Tadhg O’Shea has elected to partner Mahfouz, a 1400m maiden winner on the course this January, followed by a fifth finish in handicap company over 1600m earlier this month. Returning to his own four-year-old age group should be in his favor and he looks the main danger to the Oertel trio.
“Mr Oertel looks to have three good chances,” said O’Shea. “But Mahfouz won nicely on debut and was not disgraced last time. He has been working nicely since and should run well.”
Of the remainder, Al Tiryaq, to be ridden by Sam Hitchcott for Abdallah Al Hammadi is expected to fare best having stayed on strongly to win a 1400m course maiden on his last outing. That effort on his third career outing suggested this extra 200m pose no problem.