Owner-trainer Steve Blackwell will be hoping his homebred mare Aloof can record a hat-trick of wins in the forthcoming Wathba Stallions Cup (0-55) Handicap Stakes, to be run over nine and a half furlongs at Wolverhampton on Tuesday 13th September. The five-year-old was one of ten entries who declared for the £4,000 race, run as part of the Wathba Stallions race series which supports the grassroots of the sport around the world.
Aloof, who renews the recent winning partnership with conditional jockey, Josh Bryan, is one of two runners for Blackwell, the other being the consistent veteran, Aljawaaher. Now in his seventh season racing for the Bridgend based trainer, Aljawaaher has struck up a fruitful partnership with young amateur rider Lewis Saunders, and the pair have not finished out of the frame in all their starts this season.
At the top of the weights and returning for new connections after several years absence is Kamikaze. Now owned and trained by Craig Kester, when last seen at Royal Windsor he was victorious in the valuable HH Sheikha Fatima Ladies World Championship, ridden by Miss Helen Boehler. This time another amateur jockey, Henry Main will be on board, making his debut on Arabians, though has had plenty of experience on Thoroughbreds with his first win coming for his stepmother Heather last July, for whom Kester also works.
Making her All Weather debut is the five-year-old Zikada Zayin, who is a sister or half-sister to three winners, all of whom have won at the Midlands track for her owner-breeder Paul Simmons of Zayin Arabians. Trained like his thoroughbred mare, Opticality by Mitchell Hunt near Taunton, this will also be her first start beyond a mile. Hunt started his career as assistant to James Owen, who fields Heritage Vadel and Heritage Valentino for the brothers’ owner-breeders Mrs Skepper and her daughter Jane Marson. Heritage Vadel is already a Wathba Stallions Cup winner this season, when ridden by Rhiain Ingram who renews the partnership here. Third on that occasion was Heritage Valentino, who has since gone on to be a close second to Aloof in another Wathba Stallions sponsored race, last month at Chepstow.
Another homebred lining up is Kayack. He makes a belated seasonal return for Jen Harris, but will have the assistance of regular partner and multiple champion amateur lady jockey, Serena Brotherton in the saddle. One jockey at the start of their amateur career is Kaitlen Robinson who partners the family owned and trained Mulan. The pair were twice successful in a lesser grade at Chelmsford several years ago, but their progress was interrupted by Covid. Outclassed in their latest appearance in a Group 3PA at Haydock, the pair should be more at home in this company.
The field also includes two relatively unexposed mares who are trying headgear for the first-time. Labwah is a well-bred purchase by Sue and Tony Connally from the Shadwell dispersal and in addition to cheekpieces, she swaps her usual partner Miss Kelly Bostock for apprentice Tyler Heard. Running for Dilmun Racing in visors is Belle Angelique, who has the least distance to travel, coming from Peter Hammersley’s Leicestershire yard. Mostly ridden by vet student and regular work rider Paddy Barlow, she will have Joey Haynes in the saddle who has had plenty of success with the Hammersley string.
Genny Haynes, Arabian Racing Organisation Chief Executive Officer commented: “ARO is delighted that all the entries stood their ground, and we thank the Sheikh Mansoor Festival for their sponsorship this season, especially for races at this level which are the lifeblood of our grassroots sport.
“We also thank Wolverhampton racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for supporting our racing, particularly during this time of mourning for HM The Queen. There will be a period of two minutes silence, fifteen minutes before our race.”