The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) returned to the West Country for the second full fixture of their 2017 season at which jockey David Turner recorded a treble. Turner’s wins were all on homebreds, including Tameh, owned and trained by the meetings’ main sponsor, the Royal Cavalry of Oman. He also scored on Aurora Forta, trained by Peter Hammersley for Forta Stud who sponsored the first race on the card, and on Heather Phillpott’s Unity Belle, also trained by Hammersley.
Afterwards Turner said: “I thought they all ran really well today. Tameh was good, we decided to ride him differently today. He surprised me as I think he’s really a miler, so I had my concerns dropping back in trip on quick ground, but he’s a tough, game horse, who dug really deep at the finish.
“Aurora Forta, was a spare as Simon Walker was ill. She’s such a lovely ride at home so I’ve only ridden her a few times, as the girls all want to ride her. I was concerned about the weight as 10st7lb is a lot for a narrow filly and Pete’s other horse [Majid Bin Krayaan] who won last time out, is tough. She’s quite a ‘lookey’ filly, so keeping her interested was the challenge as she has plenty of ability.”
“As for Unity Belle, I’ve been riding her a lot at home. I think she has benefitted from doing more work and I’m really pleased for Heather as she was very game, though obviously I feel for her daughter Laura, who usually rides her.”
Turner now heads the 2017 Jockey Championship, though clearly this is not a priority for him saying: “I’ve got some good ammunition, but that can always change very quickly if you don’t keep people happy! I ride a lot of breakers and young horses and I could easily get hurt tomorrow. So I take each meeting as it comes, but I’m still enjoying it and I’ve made a good start to the season.”
The feature race, The Royal Cavalry of Oman (0-105) Handicap Stakes went to exciting young prospect Difaa, trained by Phil Collington for top British Endurance rider Nicola Thorne. Ridden by Will Pettis, the five-year-old was very keen to post, Collington was surprised by that saying: “He’s been so settled at home and has been working nicely, but we’ll be careful next time, though he settled well in the race. He’s got a great attitude, so we’ll see what the handicapper does and see what there is for him around a mile and quarter.”
Champion Trainer of 2016, James Owen, continued his good start to the season with wins for RS Equine’s Karlos Du Cayrou in the Forta Stud Restricted Maiden and HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Madany in the Visit Oman Open Maiden. Both horses were ridden by 2016 Champion Lady Jockey Joanna Mason.
Owen commented: “Karlos Du Cayrou did it nicely and I’m pleased for Rob. He may go to Chelmsford or maybe the 2m race at Doncaster. I’m thrilled with Madany, I’ve always loved him at home. I think he just got a bit of stage fright at Wolverhampton, but he grew up today and did the job well. He may go to DIAR at Newbury for the Premier Handicap over 7f.”
Also recording a double was owner-trainer-jockey Teresa Gavin, opening her account with Tiger Lily in The Royal Cavalry of Oman (0-45) Handicap, she followed up in the Heritage Arabian Racing Club (HARC) Conditions race with LB Farrah who finished 2016 as the leading HARC horse in the UK. Gavin thanked her sponsors TopStock and praised both horses, saying: “I was delighted with Tiger Lily, she may go to Wolverhampton next. LB Farrah settled well and just cruised, she’s really maturing and it shows.”
ARO Racing Operations Executive Gemma Cobb commented: “ARO is extremely grateful for the continued support of The Royal Cavalry of Oman and we are delighted for further success with Tameh – who got them off to a winning start with their runners at the opening meeting. It was also pleasing to see fellow sponsor Forta Stud have a winner with Aurora Forta, they have supported UK Arabian racing with a small string of horses since 2014 and doubled their race sponsorship this season.
“The popularity of the Heritage Arabian Racing Club continues and we welcome their grass-roots support which has enabled us to increase the number of HARC only races to three. The win of LB Farrah giving Teresa Gavin a double, exemplifies the aims of the Club in encouraging the small owners into competition with traditionally bred Arabian horses.”
She concluded: “ARO also extends their thanks to all the team at Taunton racecourse, who did so much to make the day a success. Despite the run of dry weather earlier in the month, the condition of the track was superb and the catering for both jockeys and officials was excellent too. ARO now looks forward to Chelmsford, where the Dubai International Arabian Races Prep Series begins with two races which open the thoroughbred card on June 1.”
Photos: (C) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media