Arabian Racing Organisation, The Curragh

Recent News

ARO Official Starter Ryan Colley ‘kick starts’ his year joining the BHA as ‘Raceday Official’

ARO are delighted to announce that Ryan Colley has been accepted into the BHA fold – this is an exciting next step opportunity in what we think will be a very exciting career path.

Ryan has had plenty of experience in UK horseracing as Assistant to Ruth Carr and also a spell with Trainer Alan King. He has also experienced the start from the ‘other side of the tape’ having had a few rides (and wins) as an Amateur Jockey.

As the Official Starter for the Arabian Racing Organisation Ryan certainly honed his skills with ARO having been nurtured by BHA Starter Peter Haynes, ARO are incredibly proud to see him move on to the next stage in his career. A valued member of the ARO team, Ryan was successful in an application of a bursary generously sponsored by ARO sponsor HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan that allowed him the opportunity to experience a placement in America to hone his Starting skills.

The new role that will see Ryan move from Yorkshire to the Epsom area when he starts the new role on 1st March, he will join two other new recruits who will also take up positions as “Raceday Officials” – a combined cross Departmental BHA initiative, between the Equine Welfare Integrity Officer and the Starters Dept. Lee Jones; formally Trainer Tom George’s Travelling Head Staff (11 years)  and Lisa Kozak; Oliver Sherwood’s Travelling Head Staff.

The ARO team are thrilled that we will still be seeing Ryan throughout the coming season as his commitment to racedays will be part of his on-going training – his first outing for ARO in 2018 will be the season opener at Chelmsford on 21st April. ARO wishes the new team the best of luck in their new careers and we look forward to seeing which of our team will be joining the BHA next!

Pictured here starting the second race at Wolverhampton at the ARO opening meeting.

(c) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media

ARO welcomes BHA attendance at Forum

The start of the 2018 season will feel closer for ARO participants following the annual Forum that was held this year at the Donnington Valley Hotel on Saturday 20th January. The event was well attended and some challenging and interesting questions were tabled by owners, trainers and jockeys who were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with a panel that comprised members of the ARO board, the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) and also representation from ARC (Arena Racing Company).

After a welcome from Chairman Charles Gregson who set the ‘sustainability’ theme the Forum embarked on a solid discussion of matters that are set to drive forwards the future of Arabian Racing in the UK

Introductions to new ARO team members were made after its recent restructure; Victoria Pettis who has now control of office administration, Willie McFarland, Operations Manager & Alison Lidderdale, who has taken up the role of Sponsorship and commercial Manager.

The fixture List was reviewed with updates from Willie alongside ARO Director Genny Haynes, Roderick Duncan (ARC Clerk of the Course for Doncaster and Southwell) and Emma Marley (BHA Head of Racecourse Operations). Roderick was able to put across a very informative response to the ‘other side of the card’ in terms of cost implications and how he hoped ARO and the Bio Security issue might move forward.

The Race Planning Committee and the initiative behind its implementation in late 2017 were introduced to the forum by Committee Chairman, and ARO board member Rachael Gowland (Marketing Communications Manager at the EBF), the 2018 Race Programme was presented by Willie McFarland.

2018 Rule Changes were administered by Genny Haynes, the three main areas being that 3 year old horses will not be handicapped until 4 years, Hands and Heels races will not be restricted and the possibility that substitute races could be utilised if required numbers are not met at declaration stage. Other confirmations included updates to the BHA Medical criteria – BHA 5 page mandatory medical, the adoption by ARO of the BHA RIMANI Computerised Doctors System and the BHAGI 11.2 Medical Criteria at Racecourses – bringing ARO in line with the BHA structure for these important issues on jockey safety moving forwards.

Questions from the Floor were moderated by ARO Director Paul Simmons, who held affairs together well with the assistance of the paddock bell – upholding and embracing one of the more traditional tools left in our racing heritage

Bio Security was a hot topic and one that Emma Marley; BHA Racecourse Operations was able to speak about with great authority. BHA course inspectors, Richard Linley and Peter Hobbs were also valuable in putting across a clear understanding of the requirements that racecourses have to meet in order to deliver stand-alone fixtures with Roderick Duncan (ARC) highlighting the significant costs involved too.

It was made very clear to all just how important working together is to achieve the best outcomes for all moving forward and the general consensus on all topics was that whilst ARO remains an amateur sport professional integrity is something that should most certainly be upheld for its future success.

A full write up of the Forum is being collated and will be made available to view.

For further information, please contact Alison Lidderdale, Sponsorship and Commercial Manager, at the Arabian Racing Organisation, on 07785 785 375 or at

ARO trainer Collington flys the flag at the prestigious Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz International Arabian Horse Festival


The Festival is a celebration showcasing Purebred Arabian Horses, Arabian Horseracing and an International Arabian Horse Show.

Phil Collington who trains 6 year old Mith’haf Athbah is down to run on Wednesday 24th January in the Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz International Arabian Horse Race Cup at Prince Sultan Arabian Horse Racetrack, Saudi Arabia.

Mith’haf Athbah enjoyed a successful end to his 2017 UK season in the colours of owners Athbah Stud by winning a group 1 at Chelmsford in a hard fought finish.

Background: The staging of an Arabian Horse Festival had been a vision of His Royal Highness, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for some years with the inaugural event took place in January 2008.

A celebration of the Arabian horse the festival promotes the development of a horse that has played such a vital role in the history and development of the Arabian culture.

Held under the patronage of His Royal Highness, Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin AbdulAziz Al Saud, The Festival is held every January at Al Khalediah farm, the headquarters of His Highness’s farms in Tebrak city, west of Riyadh.

The high class festival is considered the only one of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula and, more particularly, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Picture of Mith’Haf Athbah and Will Pettis winning the Arabian Racehorse Magazine Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton.

(C) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media

Alison Lidderdale joins the Arabian Racing Organisation as Sponsorship and Commercial Manager

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomes Alison to the team following her appointment as Sponsorship and Commercial Manager. She will be based at the organisation’s office at Newbury Racecourse.

Lidderdale formally worked at the world renowned PR Agency Weber Shandwick (part of the Inter Public Group) and has more recently run her own business managing client campaigns in sectors that include horseracing, sports betting, transport, education, charity and digital marketing.

The appointment will see a restructure of the team at ARO with Genny Haynes stepping down from her position that has seen her at the helm for more than 10 years.

Lidderdale said: “This will be a challenging role and I will have big shoes to fill when Genny leaves at the end of February – she has achieved extraordinary things during her time and I very much hope I can continue her good works and reflect the extraordinary energy and passion she has brought to the role. I am sure I speak for all those associated with the organisation, when I say how valued her work has been.”

Lidderdale went on to express her pleasure at joining the team: “I have obviously been working and involved in the racing world for many years but I still recall my first day of Arabian Racing at Fakenham, many years ago now but it feels like yesterday. Since then I would like to think that I have acquired a suitable skill set that will see the Organisation move forward and grow in popularity. “

Lidderdale’s role will look to enhance the sponsorship offer and she will also continue to move forwards with the projects that Genny has implemented with the BHA and other industry bodies.

ARO Director Genny Haynes, said: “We are very pleased that Alison has come on board, her skill sets will I hope bring some new dimensions to the team and we all look forward to the 2018 season.


This afternoon at the Horserace Writers and Photographer’s Association (HWPA) Annual Derby Awards Luncheon, the Royal Calvary of Oman were honoured for their support and long-term commitment to Arabian racing with the Outstanding Achievement in Arabian Racing Award. The event which took place at the Lancaster London, is sponsored by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC) and it is thanks to their involvement, that this prestigious award has been established.

The Royal Cavalry of Oman have been a supporter and sponsor of Arabian racing, both in the UK and internationally for over ten years.  The 2017 season was their best to date in the UK, finishing second in the ARO Owners Championship; with seven wins from four individual winners, their victories included two Group 1’s and a Group 2, and £118,676 in prize money. What has also significant, has been the growth of their breeding programme – producing their first ever homebred Group 1 winner, Nafees (who won the UK Arabian Derby on Doncaster St Leger day) and the Group 2 juvenile winner, Riyam.

Royal Cavalry UK Trainer, Said Al Badi, who was based in Berkshire for the summer, won the ARO Best Newcomer award and their team’s steady stream of winners and placed horses played its’ part in securing the ARO Jockeys Championship for David Turner and the ARO Novice Jockey title for Ellie Mackenzie.

Also recognised for their achievements this season were James Owen, Champion Arabian Trainer for the last two seasons; Ellie Mackenzie, Champion Novice Jockey and leading UK small owner-breeder, Heather Phillpott.

Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi said; “Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club is really proud to support for the fifth consecutive year The Horserace Writers and Photographers Association award ceremony. Congratulations to The Royal Cavalry of Oman for their achievement in Arabian Racing not only for their support in the UK but worldwide.”

ARO Chairman Charles Gregson commented. “We are delighted to see the Royal Cavalry of Oman honoured in this way as they have done so much to support Arabian racing here in the UK and we warmly congratulate them on this award. We are also extremely grateful to both the QREC and HWPA for recognising Arabian racing at this annual event.”

Salim Al Hakmani receiving the Horserace Writers and Photographer’s Association Award

(C) Zuzanna Lupa

The Royal Cavalry of Oman receiving the trophy for Sylvine Al Maury’s win in the 2017 Shadwell Arabian Stallions Hatta International Stakes, Gr1PA

(C) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media


The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted to announce the four nominees who have been recognised for their achievements during the 2017 UK Arabian racing season at the annual Horserace Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) Awards, sponsored by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, which take place next month in London. The Royal Cavalry of Oman, James Owen, Ellie Mackenzie and Heather Phillpott have all had landmark seasons and they compete to secure the prestigious award which went to ARO patron HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2016.

Owen who recorded back to back ARO Trainer Championships and also owned and trained the Champion Arabian and Champion Mare, Dolfina D’Ibos commented: “It is an honour to have been nominated for the Arabian Award and I would like to thank Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club for their generous sponsorship of Arabian racing in the UK. Thank you to my owners, including HH Sheikh Hamdan, for allowing me the privilege to train for them and a huge thank you my staff at home and to ARO who continues to work hard to push our sport forward.”

Mackenzie, who represents Racing Welfare as their Arabian Racing Ambassador and secured the Novice Jockeys title was overwhelmed saying: “It’s a tremendous honour and a huge confidence boost, plus it is a good stepping stone to build on for next season. I can’t thank Racing Welfare enough, as well as all the owners and trainers who have given me chances, and of course my agent Anna Wallace for her unceasing support.”

ARO Chairman Charles Gregson said: “We thank the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club and also the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association for their support of UK Arabian racing, recognising the achievements of its’ participants in this way.

“The Royal Cavalry of Oman and Heather Phillpott have been long term owner-breeders here in the UK and it is wonderful to see both ends of the scale rewarded with their respective nominations. Both James and Ellie have had outstanding seasons and we extend our best wishes to all the nominees for the awards ceremony on December 4 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.”








Photos: Royal Cavalry of Oman, James Owen, Ellie Mackenzie, Heather Philpott – (C) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media.

Royal praise for HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Festival

At a private reception held at Buckingham Palace, the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, 13 November 2017, Global Ambassador of the Women of the Future programme, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, received Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, General Manager of Wathba Stallions, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), to discuss the recent activities of the Festival and its 10-year anniversary celebrations.

As category sponsors of the prestigious Women of the Future Awards, which takes place at London’s Hilton Park Lane Hotel on Wednesday, 15 November 2017, Lara Sawaya together with VIP guests, sponsors and dignitaries of the Awards were welcomed to the Bow Room, an exclusive State Room at the Palace used for entertaining private audiences of The Queen and British Royals.

Following the Festival’s week-long programme of Arabian horseracing activities in Abu Dhabi between the 7th and 12th of November 2017, which saw 12-year-old British rider Mia Ann Nicholls win the inaugural HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Race Final, The Countess was delighted to learn about the Festival’s ongoing efforts to develop and encourage the careers of young jockeys, together with promoting the success of female riders as part of the world-renowned HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race series.

Thanks to the Festival’s involvement in the Women of the Future Awards this will be the second consecutive year horseracing has achieved representation in the Sport category shortlist, with Professional National Hunt and Flat jockey Alice Mills qualifying for selection in 2016, and Amateur National Hunt and Flat jockey Page Fuller who is in the running to receive this year’s award.

Lara Sawaya commented, “It was a special moment for the Festival to be received at Buckingham Palace by Her Royal Highness and commended for the work of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and Head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

‘The Festival’s sponsorship of the Women of the Future Sport Award reflects the collective dedication of HH Sheikh Mansoor and HH Sheikha Fatima to support women of all ages and backgrounds, not only in horseracing but across all sports.

‘We wish Page Fuller the best of luck tomorrow and would like to congratulate Mia Ann Nicholls, our first HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Race Champion, for her inspirational achievements in Abu Dhabi last week.”

For more information about the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Festival and the Women of the Future Awards please visit and

Picture courtesy of Erroll Jones. High-res available upon request.

Caption: Lara Sawaya (left) joins HRH The Countess of Wessex at a private reception held in honour of the Women of the Future Awards at Buckingham Palace on Monday, 13 November 2017. 


The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted to learn that Cheik Roque, trained by Phil Collington in Newmarket for Athbah Stud, will head to the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (Gr1 PA). With a prize fund of €1.2 million Euros, it is the world’s richest Arabian horse race and will be run on Friday November 10 at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

The globe-trotting Cheik Roque finished second in Italy on his latest start and is the first UK trained runner to line-up  in the feature event which concludes the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival racing season for 2017. Collington commented: “It was a great run by Cheik Roque to finish second in Italy. I have been delighted with his performances all season in the UK and am honoured to receive the invitation. We thank HH Sheikh Mansoor and Lara Sawaya for the opportunity to compete in this prestigious event.”

Also on the supporting card will be the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship (IFAHR) and the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) finals. The UK will be represented in the ladies’ finals by Rosie Jessop. Jessop booked her place when winning the Belgian stage of the contest and bids to emulate fellow UK lady jockey Catherine Walton who was successful in Abu Dhabi in 2016. Though yet to ride in Arabian races in the UK, Jessop who is apprenticed to Newmarket thoroughbred trainer Sir Mark Prescott, has had plenty of experience riding Arabians in Bahrain for Alan Smith.

Jessop said: “I am very much looking forward to the experience as it’s a track I’ve not yet been to. I really appreciate the opportunity to take part in this series and I am grateful to the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival for what they are doing to promote professional and amateur lady riders around the world.”

Genny Haynes, ARO Director said: “ARO is extremely grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival and of its’ Executive Director, Lara Sawaya. It is great to see a UK trained horse taking part in the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown and we wish Cheik Roque and his team every success next month. We also extend our good wishes to Rosie Jessop and would be delighted if she could record back to back successes for the UK in the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) finals.”

Photo: Cheik Roque and Tadhg O’Shea winning the Emirates Premier Handicap at DIAR 2017 (C) Debbie Burt – Equine Creative Media


Declarations are done! 11 starters prepare for the 2100m HARC European Championship on 30th October in Ghlin, Belgium offering a purse of Euros 20,000.

The big surprise for the forthcoming HARC Championship is the running of an Iranian horse that has travelled especially for this race all the way from Iran to Ireland, where it spent its last weeks of preparation at Highfort stud. One can guess the owner, Mr Mohammed Reza GHANEI ARDAKANI and his translator Hamid Reza MOJTAHEDZADEH, who started this venture are quite excited about it. The horse Ganj Beik is one of the better Heritage racehorses in Iran having won a HARC race not so long ago. The sire of the paternal granddam was the well-known black stallion Samarquand that Mary Gharagozlou loved so much. He was a son of Arras, a horse Mary used to ride herself. We wish Ganj Beik the best of luck giving attention to the Iranian breed of Asil horses, tracing way back in the history of the Arab breed.

Also new to HARC and very much appreciated, is the participation of the two Italian Heritage horses, both belonging to Angela Origgi. Italy joined HARC racing just this year but have a strong tradition of racing Arab horses, especially in Sardinia, where the major state-stud produced very athletic Arabian horses. Both 3-year old contenders for the HARC-Championship are bred by La Bosana Stud:- Ibis Bosana of Egyptian/Russian /Polish bloodlines and Ianua Bosana of Russian/Polish lineage.
The Russian breeders (Tersk and Samovolov Stud) send again this year their good horses to compete in this HARC-Championship which means so much to the Russian Arab breeders. We all remember Sakmagon Tersk who finished second last year only 3/4th length behind the winner … and thus contributing to the victory of Russia for the Nations Cup Sakmagon Tersk will form the Russian team with two more colts, Ceylon the older one (2012) belonging to Valentin Bukhtoyarov and the young, but very successful in his homeland, Gidon belonging to Samovolov Stud. All 3 horses have been on the road since last Monday … and we wish them safe travels and good condition upon arrival.

The Swedish delegation has three horses who also competed last year:- the overall winner Pamill’s Lipse has a very favorable weight this year as she did not run in her home country in Heritage races, which she very probably would have won, but instead tackled open races of higher level where she did not achieve higher than third. Still a great performance for a Heritage horse in an open race. Her travelling companions Mr Maximus and RM Estelle both contributed last year to secure the second position in the Nations Cup.

Kallista, our only GB Heritage horse going for competition abroad is a strong competitor and won/placed several times in HARC and open races in England. Owner Paul Simmons will hopefully be present this year in Ghlin to offer support for this special occasion of his Sambist daughter trained by Peter Hammersley.

The only Belgian–trained contender is the Romanian-bred Demona by a Russian sire, but out of old bloodlines bred by Mangalia, the National Stud of Romania. Her owner, Guillaume Filet is in fact French, living in Romania and is working very hard there to start up again the races for Arabian horses and in particular for the Heritage horses. Till now, only very little French blood has found its way to Romania, and the Romanians have a strong pride of their national breeding.

We wish good luck to all horses and their connections.

To view the declarations please click here.


Following the final fixture of the 2017 UK season, the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) offers their warmest congratulations to ARO Judge, Michael Roberts, on taking up his appointment as a Judge for the British Horseracing Authority. Roberts started his career with ARO three seasons ago, initially in a support capacity, however his long-term aim was always to be a judge.

The primary function of the role is to place the horses as they cross the line, with the support of photo-finish technology where necessary. His role also includes monitoring the sponsorship scheme for owners. He began training for the position at the end of May and undertook his first appointment at Uttoxeter on 28th July. Working primarily in the North West, he has already been as far afield as Chepstow and Market Rasen, and he welcomes the level of variety that the role provides.

Of his time with ARO and his recent appointment, Roberts said: “I’ve aspired to work in racing for a long time and saw ARO as an opportunity to get to know one of the lesser known areas of the sport. I have made some good friends and hope that I’ll be able to continue judging for ARO alongside my BHA commitments.”

He continued: “The experience I’ve gained with ARO has been critical in terms of being offered the BHA position, from having experience I could use in the initial application, to being able to discuss my understanding of the role at interview. There are only about 10 BHA judges in the country, meaning competition for any vacancies is likely to be strong, so having practical experience that makes you stand out is key. I’d encourage anyone who wants to work in racing to join the team at ARO, everyone there has been fantastic, but Genny and Peter Haynes, Gary Capewell and Tricia Newman have been hugely supportive and really helped me to find my feet in the early days.

ARO Director Genny Haynes commented: “Obviously we are delighted for Michael on his new appointment as a BHA Judge. This is yet another example of how Arabian Racing can benefit the wider racing industry by giving opportunities for education and career progression in all areas, not just riding and training horses. ARO wishes Michael every success.”

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