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Champion Ernst Oertel notches first win of new season

Sharjah: Trainer Ernst Oertel launched his bid to retain the title he won last season when he saddled his first winner at the Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club on Saturday.

The South African, who trains a strong string of horses owned by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Al Asayl Stables, opened his account when Afaal ran out a comfortable winner of the Sharjah Sport TV Maiden over 1,000m.

The winner was ridden by reigning champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who notched his first winner of the term.

Meanwhile, former UAE Derby-winning jockey Wayne Smith and Al Aasfa Stables-based Xavier Ziani helped themselves to two wins apiece as the track celebrated the first of five meetings that it will host during the 2013-2014 season.

Smith, who finished fourth in the jockey’s championship last term, won the opening 1,200m Sharjah Police Headquarters Maiden aboard the Saifaldeen Deeb-trained Najeem following a battle with Safina Ghantoot, the mount of Richard Mullen. His second winner came aboard Jaber Bittar’s Farook in the closing Sharjah Sport Council Maiden over 1,700m.

Jap Naim won the Government Of Sharjah Handicap over 1,200m before Jap Rashad landed the 2,000m Sharjah Municipality Handicap. Emirati apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei rode Abdullah Bin Huzain’s Festival City to take the Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority Handicap over 1,000m.