The close of the 2021 Arabian Racing Organisation season acknowledged both the past and the future, with awards going to some familiar faces, and also recognising new talent, albeit with roots in Arabian racing.
ARO Patron HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum may have sadly passed on, but his legacy continued this year with a first leading owners’ title for Shadwell Estates and his family. With ten individual winners, all were homebreds who raced in the iconic blue and white colours. Though none achieved a black-type victory, Alajab was Group 1PA placed in the UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby, whilst Toofaan was Group 2PA placed and Mazyoonah Group 3PA placed. Dual winning three-year-old, Muneer, also looked an exciting filly to follow in the future.
Runner-up was Paul Simmons’s Zayin Arabians, primarily down to the improving Zayin Zyperion, whilst the dual Group winning mare, Bayan Athbah, and her younger brother, Mlatem Athbah helped Athbah Stud to take third place.
Trainer James Owen secured a fifth leading trainer title, thanks to the support of his main patron Shadwell Estates. Amongst his winners this season was leading Arabian, and leading mare, Mazyoonah, who also contributed to her sire, No Risk Al Maury, gaining a second sire’s title. 2018 title-holder Phil Collington was runner-up with his team coming to the fore in the second half of the year, securing two Group wins with the progressive Bayan Athbah. Peter Hammersley was close behind in third place, thanks to the efforts of another No Risk Al Maury product in Zayin Zyperion.
Richard Hills commented: “The whole Shadwell team is honoured to receive this title on behalf of their Royal Highness’s, the family of the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
“Our trainers and their teams have done a fantastic job this year, winning races with promising young horses such as Muneer and Mumayyez as well as experienced horses such as Mazyoonah, the 2021 leading Arabian racehorse.
“This homebred filly is by one of the leading sires in the world, No Risk Al Maury, who stands under the Shadwell Arabian Stallions banner. Those successes are a reminder of the great achievements that the Arabian breeding and racing operations of HH Sheikh Hamdan have obtained, and we hope his legacy will carry on.”
Owen commented: “It’s been a great season, the horses have run well throughout. It’s been an honour to train for Sheikh Hamdan and Shadwell Estates, and we’re very grateful for that opportunity. We’ve had some nice three-year-olds through the yard for them this year and we will continue to follow them with interest in their new homes. We’re now looking forward to 2022 with our racing clubs, syndicates and new owners, and helping to promote the sport further.”
Hollie Doyle gained a notable achievement since the removal of the gender-based categories, to claim the leading jockey title, a first for a female and for a professional rider. Having grown up with her family’s Arabians, it is great for the sport for one of its own to succeed as a professional. Her parents (riding and training) had last raced under ARO rules with Rasma in 2003, with Doyle making her debut amateur ride under ARO rules in an Open All-breeds handicap, ten years later. Her first Arabian ride as an apprentice came on the old stalwart, Noble Athlete at Dubai International Arabian Races in 2016, finishing fourth in the Emirates Premier Handicap over a mile at Newbury.
She subsequently rode Farar in that year’s HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race at Lingfield, but it wasn’t until this year that she gained her first ARO win. Partnering Farhaa for Shadwell Estates and James Owen in TheArabianRacehorse.Com International Stakes at Newbury, she later followed up at the same track on the exciting filly Muneer for the same connections.
Rossa Ryan, was another young professional to take well to Arabian racing and he lost out to Doyle on placings. In third was Sean Levey, who has also had a great season, with wins on Zayin Zyperion and Alghadeer, whilst previous dual champion, Alex Chadwick, was the best of the amateurs in fourth.
Doyle was filled with enthusiasm to secure the title saying: “I’m delighted to have won the leading jockey award for this season. I owe a big thank you to Shadwell Estates who have supported me really well throughout the year and to all the trainers who have supported me along the way such as James Owen and Delyth Thomas who I rode for a few years back. I really enjoy riding the Arabians, it’s great fun and I look forward to riding them again next year.”
ARO was also pleased to support the popular Best Turned Out Series sponsored by Racing Welfare in 2021. The series rewards the hard-working grooms with points awarded in every race and at the end of the season the winners in each category received a cash prize of £125.
The winning member of staff in a larger yard was Zara Brooks (James Owen Racing), whilst the winner from a smaller yard was Sue Wileman (Peter Hammersley Racing). For the first time ever, the winning most yard was a tie between the Owen and Hammersley teams, with the prize being divided equally between them.
Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director commented on the success of the winners saying. “The season started with the sad loss of our patron, HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, whose love for the Arabian horse has helped shape our racing over the last 20 years. We congratulate everyone involved with the success of the Shadwell runners who have given His Highness a fitting success to honour his memory.
“Despite that great loss, the continuing issues surrounding Covid and also Brexit which impacted on our international runners, ARO is proud to have hosted competitive racing at all levels. We are particularly encouraged to see new owners trying UK Arabian racing for the first time, whether they be individuals or as part of a syndicate.”
She continued: “ARO congratulates James Owen and his team, on another successful season and we were thrilled to see leading professional Hollie Doyle’s star continue to rise in this sphere, on a breed with which she clearly has a natural affinity.
“We thank all our generous sponsors, Racing Welfare, all the racecourses who have supported us and the British Horseracing Authority for their assistance this season, particularly with our international runners.
“ARO is currently working on the calendar for next season, which will be the start of a new era for UK Arabian racing. We hope that we can bounce back from the challenges of the past two years and with the support of our sponsors and our participants, we look forward to developing a stronger and more vibrant sport in 2022 and beyond.”