ABU DHABI // The President of the UAE Cup Prep for the Purebred Arabians at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club tonight looks like being a showdown between Seraphin Du Paon, Versac PY and Nieshan.
Seraphin Du Paon and Nieshan are past winners of the Dh1 million President of the UAE Cup and Versac PY comes in to the picture having improved his rating from a mere 44 to 113.
While Seraphin Du Paon and Nieshan have already raced this season, Versac PY has his first start.
Seraphin Du Paon, the 2011 winner of the President of the UAE Cup and Dubai Kayahla Classic, was seventh in the National Day Cup in which Nieshan was second, a Group 1 race won by Areem over the 1,600m distance on November 18.
Nieshan, the 2012 winner of the President of the UAE Cup, was subsequently beaten by Areem in the Group 1 race three weeks later.
Seraphin Du Paon trained by Ernst Oertel for the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, and Eric Lemartinel's Nieshan, should go well over the longer distance in tonight's meeting at the capital's racecourse.
Versac PY rounded off the last season with a maiden Group 1 victory and a creditable fourth to the Qatari raider TM Fred Texas in the Kahayla Classic, the Arabian showpiece event on the Dubai World Cup night 12 days later.
Having improved remarkably in the last season, the question is whether the six-year-old French bred bay son of Njewman has the potential to progress further.
Erwan Charpy, his handler, rates him as one of the best Arabians he has trained since Charh, the 2007 winner of the Emirates Championship.
"It may be different for him [Versac PY] this season as he has to run in the stronger races but there is no reason to think he cannot repeat his excellent form of last season," the Green Stables trainer said.
"He has trained well over the summer and was even ready for the National Day Cup; however, we opted out of this race because the distance isn't right for him."
Versac PY has been out of the top two only twice, including the fourth place finish in the Kahayla Classic. He won seven races and was placed three times in 12 career starts.
The feature prize of the six-card is the Listed Arabian Triple Crown Round 1 for four year olds that has drawn the maximum 14 runners over the 1,600m distance.
Lemartinel is double handed with Magik Du Paon and Al Arous while Shayel Aldhabi, winner of his last two races and the choice of Tadhg O'Shea, spearheads Oertel's quartet.
"She has won both her local starts and was impressive last time in a decent race so it would have been hard to desert her," O'Shea said.
The only Thoroughbred race on the card is a 2200m handicap (rated 75-95) and Jawhar is an interesting newcomer in the UAE having won his last three starts in the United Kingdom when trained by William Haggas.
Paul Hanagan, the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, takes the ride on the five year old gelded son of Halling, now trained by Doug Watson in Dubai.
"I won on him three times in England and am really looking forward to getting back on him," the two-time British champion jockey said of the horse."
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