The Royal Cavalry of Oman’s busiest weekend of sponsorship with Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) saw many of the participants record notable firsts in the sport of Arabian racing. The win of Awzaan in Royal Cavalry of Oman Clarendon Stakes (Gr 3 PA) run at Newbury racecourse on Saturday 17th August was a first PA Group win for trainer James Owen, for his jockey Martin Dwyer and for the sire Al Saoudi. The Sultanate of Oman Raceday followed at Wolverhampton and was significant as the first UK full Arabian fixture outside of Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR) to be open to professional jockeys. The opening race was won by Izenterisky, which was a first homebred winner for Sheila Collington, wife of trainer Phil. Later in the card amateur Hayley Lewis rode her first ever winner on Jaahez, for Owen and in the concluding race, professional Dylan Hogan gave the Collington trained Halib Des Forges a very positive ride to record his first win on an Arabian, both were in the colours of ARO Patron HH Sheikh Hamdan.
The Royal Cavalry of Oman Clarendon Stakes (Gr 3 PA) has been held at Newbury racecourse since 2015 and after ten declarations, two of the past three winners in Macallan and Kao Kat MHF lined up, along with Shomoos Athbah, who had been runner-up for the past two seasons. Also present was Conchita DA and El Zarka DA, the first and third in the UK’s premier sprint, the Jebel Ali Racecourse Za’abeel International (Gr1PA) held over a furlong further as part of DIAR at Newbury last month. However, on rain softened ground it was Awzaan on his first attempt at the minimum trip who was a comfortable winner by three lengths from Conchita DA and El Zarka DA.
Owen commented: “That was that was a bit of a shock actually, though we’ve always known Awzaan had ability, as he’s been Group 1 placed at a mile, we’ve always run him over staying trips. He’s grown up a lot this year though, I’ve always wanted to try him in blinkers, and I have at home, but he’s just not seemed tough enough to try it on the racecourse. He’s handled his races so much better this season, so we thought we’d give it a go over this trip and it’s worked the oracle. Even though he was slowly away here, he’s travelled really well in his race and all the way to the line. I hope we get to keep him in training next season as I think there are more options for him now.”
He continued: “It’s my first ever Group winner, hopefully the first of many. I’m delighted for Martin as well, he’s enjoying riding the Arabians and his feedback is fantastic.”
The following day the action transferred to Wolverhampton racecourse for the annual Sultanate of Oman Family Raceday, which in the past has been held at Chelmsford City, Chepstow, Huntingdon, Salisbury and Royal Windsor. Fifty-five runners were declared for the six-race card, with the first race starting at 1.00pm. Attending to present the trophies on both days was the Royal Cavalry’s Director General Sarhan Alzedi, assisted by Mohamed Al Hashmi, Racing Manager of the Royal Horse Racing Club in Oman and Salim Al Hakmani, Director of Activities and Racing Department.
Whilst it was emotional day of first winners with the successes of Izenterisky for the Collington’s and Jaahez for Hayley Lewis, it was also a final appearance for Syrah Gris in the Taqah Beach (0-50) Handicap. Trained by Adam Newey for the Almost All Partnership, after 73 starts he made his last outing a winning one, adding to his five previous victories when getting up to deny My Boy Sam in the final strides and will now be retired. Whilst trainer Owen had considered My Boy Sam to be his best chance of his Racing Club’s runners, it was their Tijaary under Alex Chadwick who came out on top after a steward’s enquiry demoted first-past-the-post Abiyah Athbah, following interference to the third Daleel.
Tijaary’s form had been franked in the opener, the Al Seefah Beach Maiden, when Izenterisky, who had been half a length behind him when breaking his maiden at this track in June, was a ready five-length winner under Barry Adams, whose wife Hannah co-owns the horse.
Acknowledging the pressure of training for his wife, Collington smiled saying: “The only worry today was if he would settle to get the extra furlong, stepping up to a mile. Barry gave him a lovely ride and he’s quickened up and gone away from them well. He’s always been very professional at home. We both wanted to breed a horse by No Risk Al Maury as he’s been such a big part of our lives and of course having won on him and his dam makes Izenterisky’s win all the more special. We’ll have a look and see if there’s anything for him abroad, but he’ll probably be put away for next season.”
In the second race former ARO novice champion turned conditional jockey Charlie Price was grinning following his recommendation to owner-trainer Delyth Thomas to fit Callymay with visors. Having raced up with the pace in the Sohar Beach (0-70) handicap, he drove the daughter of Dahess into the lead and finished over two lengths clear of Falcon Du Roch, who was much better back at this track, following a disappointing run at Chelmsford City.
Hayley Lewis had been smiling from half a furlong out when recording her first ever win on the maiden Jaahez in the Ras Al Hat Novice Stakes, she commented: “James told me to just let him go and enjoy himself, I’ve been riding Jaahez at home for a while and we get on really well. I knew I was clear and though I could hear the others behind me, he was travelling so well I left him a bit longer before I pushed him on as I didn’t want him to go backwards. I’ve been with James for two years and this is my first season race riding, I’m really grateful to James for the opportunity, he’s great to work for.”
The Kasab Beach (0-100) Handicap was a competitive conclusion to the day’s racing with Halib Des Forges holding off the challenge of Al Kaaser to win by a neck. This was a first win on an Arabian for apprentice Dylan Hogan, though not his first win in His Highness’s colours having won a premier handicap on Aared and a rated race on Moktamel for Keven Prendergast in Ireland last year.
Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director commented: “It has been a wonderful weekend of racing for the Royal Cavalry of Oman, who have been a loyal and generous supporter of UK Arabian racing for over ten years. The Clarendon Stakes is the most valuable of all the Royal Cavalry’s race sponsorship with us and took place in front of a near sell-out crowd at Newbury. We were pleased to welcome runners from Belgium and Sweden who have been successful at Newbury before, proving that Arabian racing in the UK can support international competition and this comes on the back of recent overseas wins by our domestic trainers, James Owen and Phil Collington.
“We were delighted with Awzaan’s win for James Owen, giving him a well-deserved first PA Group success as he is on course for a third ARO trainer championship. Though the majority of his winners are for HH Sheikh Hamdan, his James Owen Racing Club has over thirty members for the three-horse syndicate of Tijaary, My Boy Sam and Arwen Forta. Syndicates are an excellent way to attract more new people to the sport and we would like to see this increase in the future.”
She continued: “The annual Sultanate of Oman Family Raceday at Wolverhampton marked a significant milestone in ARO’s history as it was the first time outside of the DIAR meeting that we have had professional jockeys riding alongside amateurs at an ARO full fixture. We are proud to see jockeys of the calibre of seven-time UAE champion Tadhg O’Shea and Derby winner Martin Dwyer riding under ARO rules and we also welcome the success of apprentice Dylan Hogan on his first ride on an Arabian. It is also pleasing to see our former champion novices Charlie Price and Ellie Mackenzie continue to ride with us since taking out their professional licences and we thank their employers Tim Vaughan and Mark Usher for their support.
“This has been a marvellous way to conclude the Royal Cavalry’s very generous race sponsorship with ARO during the 2019 season and we look forward to welcoming them back in 2020.”
Racing Welfare continued their support of the ARO stable staff, with Felicity Marshall awarding Collington Racing and James Owen Racing the Best Turned Out Award in the first two races on the Sultanate of Oman Family Raceday with a cash prize of £20 and a Racing Welfare gilet to the winning grooms’ of Izenterisky and My Boy Sam.