The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted to learn that last year’s winner Bayan Athbah, will return to Haydock Park on Saturday to defend her crown in the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup. The Group 3PA contest will be run over a mile at Haydock’s biggest flat meeting of the year, their Sprint Cup Celebration which runs over three days, concluding with the Betfair Sprint Cup Day on Saturday 3rd September.
Collington has an enviable record in the race, as he not only trained Athbah Racing’s Bayan Athbah to win last year, but also trained the winners of the two previous running of the race, formerly known as the ARO Cup, Shomoos Athbah (Royal Windsor 2018) and Aghsaan (Newbury 2016). Bayan Athbah has been his pick of four possible entries and will be ridden by ten times UAE champion jockey Tadgh O’Shea, who partnered the six-year-old mare to win a Group 2PA sprint at Newbury last year.
Collington said: “The joint that Bayan injured before Goodwood has settled right down, all’s good with her now and she’s in great form. We’ll stick to the plan that she’ll run in headgear for the first time and Tadgh, who knows her well, will ride.”
She faces several of her rivals from last year, most notably Dilmun Racing’s Abiyah Athbah who was a very close third on that occasion. Abiyah Athbah has been campaigned with this race as a target, most recently finishing third in the same black-type sprint that Bayan Athbah had won last year. Behind Abiyah Athbah in fourth last month was her stablemate Zayin Angkor Centurion, who trainer Peter Hammerlsey has steadily brought back from an injury induced lay-off. A homebred for Paul Simmons’ Zayin Arabians, his nine-year-old stallion was runner up in this in 2018, ahead of four Group winners. Abiyah Athbah will be giving Ben Curtis his first ride on an Arabian, whilst Hector Crouch will be joining up with Zayin Angkor Centurion for a fourth time.
Fifth behind Bayan Athbah in 2021 was the James Owen trained Al Kaaser. Now running in the colours of his Racing Club, the eight-year-old gelding seems best when fresh and he returns from a short break, aiming to give the Racing Club their first black-type success. Owen also runs Balqees, leased from Shadwell Estates by Dubai based businessman Gary Allsopp. Allsopp is having a great introduction to Arabian racing, with wins by Balqees and his other horse Wanassa this season, and he’s also a member of Owen’s Racing Club so will have Al Kaaser to cheer on as well. Balqees will be ridden by last year’s leading jockey Hollie Doyle, who partnered the five-year-old mare to her maiden success in May, whilst Sean Levey who also boasts a good record on the breed, will ride Al Kaaser.
Completing the field is Mulan, ridden by the only amateur in the race Miss Kaitlen Robinson. Owned by Kaitlen’s parents Melanie and Gavin Kelly, Mulan is a dual winner, including over this trip on the All Weather and has been lightly raced since due to the challenges of Covid, but will be sharper for her reappearance at Southwell in late July.
With a prize fund of £14,000, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup is the highlight of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival UK Arabian racing sponsorship package for 2022. The Festival has played a significant role in the promotion of Arabian racing and breeding around the world since it began in 2009, aiming to continue the efforts made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to preserve heritage sports and equestrian sport in particular. Sponsoring more than 150 races in 2022, the Festival supports a wide variety of contests from the grassroots to the highest level, which culminate in the worlds’ strongest Arabian horse race on Turf, the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, a Group 1 PA run in Abu Dhabi in December.
Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival, said: “The Festival is delighted to support the Arabian Racing Organisation and looks forward to returning to Haydock Park for the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup.”
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said: “For over ten years the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival has generously supported our racing for which ARO is extremely grateful. The runners declared for the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup on Saturday look closely matched on from and we look forward to a really competitive race.
“We are also grateful for the support and assistance of the British Horseracing Authority, Haydock Park racecourse and Racing Welfare who are sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award.”