The Arabian Racing Organisation’s (ARO) 2019 racing season ended on September 24th at Lingfield Park having hosted 46 races, of which eight were PA Group contests. ARO patron HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum gained his 18th Owners Championship, with many of those winners trained by James Owen, who recorded his third ARO Trainers title. The ARO Jockeys Championship was won by Alex Chadwick, a remarkable achievement in his first season riding under ARO rules.
Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster, who received the trophy on behalf of His Highness commented: “We are very happy to celebrate another ARO Owners Championship title on behalf of HH Sheikh Hamdan. His dedication and passion for Arabian racing is second to none and our Arabian racing teams have done a wonderful job again this year. The UK racing season highlight for us was the successful DIAR raceday at Newbury at the end of July. We have been very pleased to see some of our young horses showing a lot of promise, as well as experienced horses performing at the highest level. We were also delighted to watch Awzaan win a Group race at Newbury this summer, a first Group winner for his sire Al Saoudi, who stands under the Shadwell Arabians banner in Newmarket.”
Awzaan was also a first PA Group winner for Owen, who regained the trainers title he first won in 2016. Owen also took the leading Arabian racehorse (races won) title with Tijaary, another Al Saoudi sired performer, who has been the flag bearer for his Racing Club, in only their second season of racing.
Owen said: “The Arabians have all performed well and held their form throughout the season. It was great to get our first DIAR and Group winners, in Al Azeeza and Awzaan, particularly as they were both for HH Sheikh Hamdan and I thank all my owners and staff for their support. I am now looking forward to attending the Arqana sale where I will be trying to strengthen my team for next year.”
An integral part of the Owen team has been 24-year-old Alex Chadwick who joined Owen’s Newmarket based stable earlier this year. After a brief spell as a conditional jockey in Scotland, he returned to the amateur ranks, initially riding point-to-pointers for Owen before commencing his first season on Arabians.
After receiving his trophy from 16-time ARO Champion Simon Walker, he said: “It’s a big achievement really, I never thought at the start of the year I would end up as Champion Jockey. James has been a tremendous help, coaching me, reviewing my races and giving me rides. Tijaary would be my highlight, we both lost our maiden tags together, I ride him every day at home and he’s been my favourite throughout the season. The aim over the winter will be to ride in point-to-points and under rules when I can and hopefully getting more winners.”
L to R: Jack Day (Rossdales) James Owen (ARO Champion Trainer), Alex Chadwick (ARO Champion Jockey), Richard Lancaster (receiving on behalf of ARO Champion Owner HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum), Simon Walker, Katy Groome (Rossdales)
Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director commented: “We congratulate HH Sheikh Hamdan on another successful season. His continued support of our programme, not only through race sponsorship, but his horses, trainers and stallions, is integral to our success, from the grass-roots to the highest level.
“We also congratulate James Owen on his third trainer championship and are delighted for the success of the James Owen’s Racing Club which has over thirty members. Syndicates are an excellent way to attract new people to the sport, which is something we would like to encourage in the UK.”
“Thank you also to Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons who are in their second year of sponsoring with us here at Lingfield Park and also kindly presented our Champion Owner and Trainer trophies.”
Reviewing the year she said: “This season has been a turning point for UK Arabian racing. Though we reduced the number of races to reflect the decline in horse population, it still provided opportunities for all levels with exceptionally good prize money for the lower grade horses, as well as those at the top end. The increase of single races against a reduction of stand-alone fixtures had the benefit of widening our audience, which can only be a positive. For example, The Clarendon Stakes, the most valuable of all the Royal Cavalry of Oman’s race sponsorship with us, took place in front of a near sell-out crowd at Newbury.”
“This season we have been able to open up many more of our races to professional riders. It was a significant milestone in our history to welcome jockeys of the calibre of seven-time UAE champion Tadhg O’Shea and Derby winner Martin Dwyer to our domestic races. 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. We are delighted for the success of Alex Chadwick in his first season with us and we hope that we will be able to continue to foster the careers of more young jockeys in the future.”
She continued: “The increase in international runners is also significant, and the support from their owners, trainers and jockeys cannot be underestimated. We acknowledge the role that DIAR and its’ supporting series has played in encouraging overseas participation, and also of our other major sponsors, the President of the UAE Cup, Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, the Royal Cavalry of Oman and the HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival.”
Haynes was positive about the future saying: “We thank all our participants, officials and supporters for their commitment to Arabian racing in 2019. ARO will now evaluate the season to establish the programme for 2020, which we expect to be in a similar format, a model that is well established in other countries.
“The future will be challenging, but with strong support and encouragement from our sponsors this is nothing that ARO and our participants have not encountered previously. The relationship between ARO and the British Horseracing Authority is deepening as we work together on a variety of projects to ensure the sport of Arabian racing is sustainable and integrated into the UK horseracing industry, which has always been our patron, HH Sheikh Hamdan’s vision.”