ABU DHABI // After taking charge of Al Asayl Stables in Abu Dhabi as their third trainer in three years, Ernst Oertel seems to have settled better into his job than his predecessors.
The South African has already saddled six winners, nine second places, and three third-place finishes in 31 races, touching Dh300,000 in prize money so far in to this season which only kicked off earlier this month.
His 12 months at the stables has seen 16 winners and Dh1.8 million in winnings.
With the arrival of several exciting new juveniles and some of the high-rated older inmates for the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, and his son Sheikh Sultan, Oertel can add to his tally from tonight's third meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
The trainer has strong claims in four of the six races. Mashahed can get the ball rolling in the opener, a Conditions race for Purebred Arabians run over the 1,600-metre distance.
The chestnut colt was an impressive winner in his racecourse debut over the sprint distance of 1,000m at Sharjah last week.
Tadhg O'Shea, the UAE champion jockey, got him up in the last few strides to win by a head from Aldiah and the longer trip should suit him better with Ameer Al Reef as the main threat.
Najm Alemarat, Swyft, and Time Out are the choices of the stable's first jockey O'Shea. They carry their main hopes in the next three races although Oertel has multiple entries in them.
"So far so good," Oertel said of his time at the Abu Dhabi stables. "It has been a decent start and hopefully we can enjoy more success as the season progresses.
"We have some pretty good horses, especially the Arabians, to compete for the top prizes in the country, which would be our main goal apart from winning as many races as possible."
The only Thoroughbred race on the card is the concluding 2,200m handicap and 14 have been declared, including Dubai World Cup Carnival regular Kal Barg who will be having a rare turf excursion having raced predominantly on the all-weather in recent years.
"He had one turf run at the 2011 Carnival off a mark of 104 and is now down to 95 giving him this opportunity," Dhruba Selvaratnam, the trainer, said of the seven-year-old gelded son of Medicean.
"He will have come on for that Meydan run the other day and can hopefully go well but we have an awful draw in 14."
Tmaam, from the Grand Stand Stables of the UAE champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, is an interesting newcomer having won a race when trained by Mark Johnston in the United Kingdom.
Calgacus, the only three year old in the field and who will be having his first start for Erwan Charpy, is another interesting entry.
The Galileo colt was last seen when contesting the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on his fourth and final start in Ireland.
"He is a nice young horse who worked well the other day and we are going to find out a lot about him against some proven older handicappers," said O'Shea, who takes the ride.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE