The final fixture of the UK Arabian racing season was dominated by trainer James Owen, who rounded off his most successful year yet by winning the first four races on the card with Insignia, Mahaasen, Dolfina D’Ibos and Tatbeeq. Owen had already been confirmed as ARO Champion Trainer for a second season going into the fixture, as had Champion Lady Jockey Joanna Mason, who also rode Mahaasen and Tatbeeq. Insignia and Bronze Final winner Dolfina D’Ibos, provided multiple champion jockey Simon Walker with a double, however this year the Jockeys’ Championship went to David Turner, whilst Ellie Mackenzie was crowned Champion Novice Jockey.
ARO Patron, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum won his sixteenth ARO Owners Championship, and thanks to Mahaasen, Tatbeeq and Almareekh, who won the Gold Final for Phil Collington, he recorded a treble on the day. Commenting on His Highness’s success, Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster said: “It is wonderful that HH Sheikh Hamdan has once again become leading owner. He is passionate about the Arabian horse and he puts so much into promoting Arabian racing around the world.”
He continued: “On behalf of HH Sheikh Hamdan I would like to thank everyone involved in making this achievement possible once more. HH Sheikh Hamdan would also like to thank ARO and everyone involved in arranging the race programme for all their hard work.”
Owen was delighted with how his team had performed saying: “I’m so pleased for my parents who bred Insignia, he’ll probably be retired, but they have really enjoyed racing this season and have some nice youngsters coming through for next year. I think Mahaasen was lucky as Taqdeeraat got left at the start, but she had the benefit of experience to help her. Tatbeeq has been slowly coming to hand, he really tried today and he should improve over the winter. Dolfina D’Ibos has run for me almost every meeting, but she has strengthened throughout the season and Simon gets on really well with her. She’s sound and she’s tough – she’s won on the All Weather, she’s won on the grass, she’s given some of our novice jockeys a great experience and ended up as Champion Arabian and Champion mare.”
He thanked his principal owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan for his loyalty saying: “It’s been wonderful with his young horses coming through, and exciting with three-year-olds like Al Kaaser and Rafeef for next season. Shadwell are such a great team to work with, it’s a privilege to train His Highness’s horses and I just hope I can train some nice winners for him in the future. I’m also really pleased for all my staff at home, they work really hard, they enjoy coming racing and their parents come along too. We’re a happy team.”
ARO Champion Lady Jockey, Joanna Mason was also recording her second consecutive championship. She thanked Owen for his support saying: “It’s thanks to him that I’ve been able to ride nice horses. It’s amazing to get 10 winners, I would never have dreamt that was possible at the start of the season.”
Though he had to settle for a third and a second on the day, David Turner secured his first ARO Jockeys’ title and is not far short of recording a landmark of 100 career winners. He commented: “It’s been a very good season thanks to all of Peter Hammersley’s owners and of course the Royal Cavalry of Oman. I’ve always been thereabouts in the Championship over the years, and mostly this season, I’ve ridden the lower rated horses, which proves you can win a title from the lower end. However, some have been really nice horses who I’m sure will progress next year.”
Racing Welfare Ambassador Ellie Mackenzie was crowned Champion Novice Jockey, she commented: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to be given the opportunities that I have and Racing Welfare have been good to me too. I’m so lucky, I never expected it to be such a great season and to win a Group 2 race at Dubai International Arabian Races on my first ride there was incredible.”
The Silver Final went to Parma T, ridden by Morgan Winstone for the Bull family. She had won the GoldFinal last year, but having slipped in the ratings, was back to her best when it mattered. The Heritage Arabian Racing Club Handicap Conditions race was won by LB Farrah for Teresa Gavin, which assured her place as the 2017 UK HARC Champion, which she had also won last year.
Trainer Phil Collington scored with Cheik Roque in the ARO Open Handicap for Athbah Stud and Almareekh in the Gold Final for HH Sheikh Hamdan. Though finishing runner-up again in the trainers’ title, he had recorded his best season to date.
Gemma Cobb, the out-going ARO Racing Operations Executive said: “It has been a great finish to the season at Huntingdon today, with the Gold, Silver and Bronze Finals proving very competitive and producing some fantastic finishes. We have had some great racing throughout the season and it is a credit to all the hard work put in behind the scenes by owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff. I have met many passionate individuals and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to gain as much experience anywhere else. I fully intend to utilise everything I have learnt at ARO in the future.”
ARO Director Genny Haynes said: “We thank HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his support of Arabian racing and congratulate him for securing his sixteenth ARO Owners Championship. We also thank the Arabian Horse Organization for their sponsorship of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Finals, Forta Stud for sponsoring the fillies’ maiden and the Heritage Arabian Racing Club for their series of races.”
She continued: “We also thank Baileys Horse Feeds for sponsoring the Best Turned Out awards today and to Racing Welfare for their sponsorship of the Best Turned Out Championships. Peter Hammersley’s staff won the large yard team award, and Ria Tillet of Collington Racing won the individual award (large yard), whilst Sarah Davenport and Jayme Plumb shared the small yard individual award.”
She also congratulated Paul Simmons, who was appointed to the board of Directors at ARO earlier in the year, on receipt of the Shomran Trophy and Ellie Mackenzie who received the Grass Roots Award from Anna and Brian Wallace. Both awards recognise an individuals’ contribution to the sport throughout the season. The ARO Best Newcomer Award went to Said Al Badi of the Royal Cavalry of Oman, who was not present to receive it. The AHS Leading Owner award went to Heather Phillpott, AHS Leading trainer was Teresa Gavin and AHS Premium Scheme winner was LB Farrah.
Concluding Haynes said: “We also thank the staff at Huntingdon and all the racecourse teams who have hosted ARO fixtures and single races this year. 2017 has been our most successful in terms of the number of Purebred Arabian entries and declarations for some time and we look forward to building on this seasons’ success next year.”