Thaydah Athbah and Kieran O’Neill win the Athbah Maiden Winter Race at Mons Ghlin

Photo supplied by AHRCB

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) congratulates 2022 Leading Trainer Phil Collington, who started the new season in the best possible way with a winner with his first starter on Friday 28 January.  Thaydah Athbah was one of three runners Collington took to Belgium for 2022 ARO Leading Owner and his principal patron, Athbah Racing, with the four-year-old filly winning in good style for Kieran O’Neill.

Bred by Athbah Stud, Thaydah Athbah was one of two runners representing the sponsor in the Athbah Maiden Winter Race held over 1500m on the All Weather at Mons Ghlin. The daughter of leading sire AF Albahar, jumped off smartly and settled behind the early leaders, responding well when asked to take it up in the home straight to win by three quarters of a length from Saab Athbah, trained in France by Elizabeth Bernard.

A delighted Collington commented: “Thaydah Athbah did really well on her debut to win by three quarters of a length over 1500m. There will be a big improvement to come from her when she steps up in trip, she definitely got away with it over this distance”

In the following race, the Arabian Horse Organisation Winter Championship held over 2100m, there was another one-two for Athbah Racing.  This time however, it was Sultana trained by Bernard, who got the better of Ekleel Athbah, for Collington, with his other runner, Thakeera Al Shahania making a promising debut in this company to finish fifth. Collington still had plenty of involvement with the winner as he had broken her in and trained her for her breeders, Shadwell Stud, before she was sold to Athbah as part of the Shadwell dispersal. Ekleel Athbah who was ARO’s leading horse of 2022, already has her invitation to the Saudi Cup to run in the Al Mneefah Cup on the Friday of the Festival and this will have been an ideal preparation.

Continuing Collington said: “Ekleel was drawn widest of all and found it hard to get into a rhythm where she could settle in an on-off pace. She was too keen early on with no cover and having switched to the inside, turning in Kieran thought she would pick up, but she never really got into it this time. She needs a regular gallop and will also be better back on turf, which she will get in Saudi.

“Thakeerah Al Shahania was very green, more than I expected as she’s very good at home, but she ran really well to finish fifth. Stephane [Breux] agreed that we were right to run her in the longer race over 2100m rather than the maiden over shorter. She’ll be fine at 2000m and upwards as she matures, and will definitely come on for the run. We’re looking forward to seeing her and Thaydah Athbah out early on in the UK if it all goes well.”

ARO CEO Genny Haynes commented: “ARO warmly congratulates Phil, Athbah Racing and all the team for their success in Belgium last week and we’re delighted to learn that Ekleel Athbah has been invited to the Saudi Cup meeting.  We look forward to the opening race of our season, which starts on Tuesday 9 May at Lingfield Park.”