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Familiar pattern to race for trainer's championship.

Dubai: History could well be repeating itself in the race for championship honours in the UAE.

With just a handful of meetings remaining before the Dubai World Cup in four weeks time, the battle lines remain drawn in the trainer's division with Abu Dhabi-based Ernst Oertel looking a strong contender to retain the crown he won 12 months ago.

Oertel currently trails Dubai-based Musabah Al Muhairi 28 to 31 wins, but with the heavy emphasis on Purebred Arabian races at Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah, he appears to have the drop on his closest rival.

The South African's stables at Al Asafa have an abundance of riches when it comes to Arabian race horses and they have provided him with all but three of his success this season. In contrast Al Muhairi, who boasts a yard essentially made up for thoroughbreds, has just one Arabian victory to his credit.

Oertel has emerged as a powerhouse in the field of Arabian racing which he has almost completely dominated for the past two seasons. Only Jaber Bittar and Eric Lemartinel can hold a candle to his exploits, given the depth of talent he has in the Arabian ranks.

Given the number of races conducted for the breed, does this mean that it will be hard to topple him in the years to come? I guess so.

That's not a bad thing, considering race horses are race horses. But would it make sense to have two championships? One for Arabians and another for thoroughbreds? Just a thought.

You already have a UAE championship and another for the Dubai World Cup Carnival. There was a time when a championship was decided on prize money won, but that did not actually add up, unless you had a horse that was good enough to win a race on the big night or one of Group race winning calibre. What would happen to all the trainers whose yards are essentially filled with handicappers, the life and blood of the sport.

I think it should be the way it is, with the number of successes deciding who is becomes champion.

In the jockey's division there is no reason for a debate with those tiny athletes being fully capable of riding both Arabians and thoroughbreds. Mind you, its not easy to partner the former, for they can be uncanny, and are known to be hard-headed at times. I'm not saying they do crazy things but I'm told they are radically different to their thoroughbred equals.

But they have a charm of their own, and deserve to be racing on the same tracks that the more conventional thoroughbreds race. Perhaps the UAE is one of the only countries in the world where equal emphasis is placed on both breeds. And this is where Oertel comes in, having a yard that draws strength from the Arabian race horse, while he also boasts some decent thoroughbred horses.

Whichever way you look at it Oertel has become a force to be reckoned with, and looks certain to consolidate himself as a foremost professional should he win his second championship, which seems more than a likelihood.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Mar 2, 2014
Words:539
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