The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomes the third of their five Wathba Stallions Cup sponsored races, to Royal Windsor racecourse on Monday June 28th. The mile and a quarter (0-65) handicap has a competitive look having attracted 11 runners and is the most valuable race of its grade this season. It is held as part of the global HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival programme of races.

Likely favourite is Serafim Forta for leading trainer James Owen and his Racing Club. The four-year-old colt looked progressive last season when winning on his final start for the trainer over half a furlong less at Wolverhampton. Carrying top weight that day, as he will on Monday, he reopposes many of those he had behind him on that occasion and though he has been a little disappointing this term, he’s tried in a hood for the first time. Also running for Owen, is Sue Herrod’s homebred Run The Risk. Though he was green and outpaced on his first outing in a very competitive maiden, first-time blinkers should sharpen him up for his handicap debut.

Another opening her account in handicaps is Paul Simmons’s Aymee, one of three runners for trainer Peter Hammersley. Though well-bred she is taking her time to come to hand and is likely to need more experience. Unlike

HH Sheikha Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Bin Al Reeh who was a runaway success in the previous Wathba Stallions Cup race at Bath ridden by Sophie Ralston, who had previously taken part in the Festival’s HH Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak series. The pair reunite at Windsor, though it is Hammersley’s other runner, Samawaat, owned by the Connally’s catches the eye. A likeable mare by Munjiz, she was far too keen on her reappearance, where she and Serafim Forta set the race up for the subsequent winner at Chelmsford. That outing will have put her straight for this and she was only two and a half lengths behind Serafim Forta when he won last season, who she meets on better terms here.

Jayme Plumb’s Gerko De Tenelle showed signs of improvement when fourth to Bin Al Reeh at Bath, but his latest outing at Chelmsford behind Samawaat and Serafim Forta was not so encouraging. Whilst Steve Blackwell’s Aljawaaher looked in need of the race at Bath, he has been a grand campaigner for connections and the booking of young amateur Daniel Ellis takes the eye. Ellis has already recorded 25 wins in pony races, won his category’s final at Newmarket in 2017 and was championship runner-up that year. He also has ties to the Festival having finished third in the HH Sheikha Lateefa pony race at Royal Windsor in 2019. Since progressing to point-to-points he’s ridden several winners and been placed in a hunter chase at Cheltenham.

Along with Blackwell, the Welsh training ranks will also be represented by Delyth Thomas who runs Kayclaire and Kork MHF. They will be her first runners of 2021, however she is no stranger to first-time-out winners, or success in the Wathba Stallions Cup series. Others making their seasonal returns are Craig Kester’s veteran Norseman, and the lightly raced Falcon Du Roc’h, who debuts for new connections Stride Ahead Racing.

The Wathba Stallions Cup series aims to promote the breeders of Arabian racehorses, and is supported by Wathba Stallions, the breeding arm in the UAE and France, of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs, who is also Chairman of the Emirates Arabian Horse Association.

Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director said: “ARO is extremely grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival. We are also delighted to be returning to Royal Windsor, where their Monday evening fixtures are an ever-popular feature of summer racing in the UK.”