Athbah Racing’s homebred filly Ekleel Athbah struck again for connections in the Royal Cavalry of Oman International Stakes (Gr 2PA) run over 6f at Newbury this afternoon. Ridden by Tadhg O’Shea she was confirming the excellent performance she produced when winning the Royal Cavalry sponsored, Nizwa Fort Conditions Stakes over course and distance in early July. In winning she was following in the hoofprints of Bayan Athbah who won the race for the same team last year. She was closely pressed to the line by the sponsors own homebred filly Fateenah, ridden by Mickael Forest, however Ekleel Athbah crossed the line a neck ahead of the French trained challenger, with Abiyah Athbah a further two and a quarter lengths behind in third.
After the race O’Shea commented: “She’s a lovely filly, obviously it’s my first time riding her, I watched her win last time and she still looked relatively green, I said to Phil beforehand that the French filly owned by the sponsors looked the one to beat. All credit to them for sponsoring and they always have some very good Arabians that to have be respected. I followed that one through and I had a very smooth race, she picked up well. She’s a filly that gets further so I was always confident when she put her nose in front inside the furlong pole that she’d stay a bit further.
Asked to compare his two winners of the race O’Shea said: “They’re very similar. Bayan possibly had a little bit more pace, but this filly is learning quickly and she’s probably a bit more forward at this stage of her career than Bayan was. I think Phil will freshen her up with a view to going to Doncaster next.”
Collington confirmed this, saying: “Ekleel’s win here last month showed she was capable at this distance, Bayan went a similar route last year and like her, this filly has shown she’s got the speed to win, so it’s all worked out well. Now she can step back up in trip, hopefully for the UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby at Doncaster. Tadhg is certainly of the opinion that it’s a strong possibility after today.”
The £20,000 race was the opening contest of BetVictor Hungerford Day which also features three thoroughbred black type races, the highlight of which is the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes. This race was the culmination of the Royal Cavalry’s sponsorship package for the 2022 Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) season and was held in front of a crowd of over 10,000. The day had begun with Dr Sarhan Salim Al Zeidi, Director General of the Royal Cavalry of Oman, planting a Silver Birch tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to commemorate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
Kevin Josse, general manager for all of the Royal Cavalry’s equestrian activities in France said: “This is my second visit to Newbury and what I particularly like in the UK is the atmosphere, the quality of the racing and the crowds are fantastic, I think I can say on behalf of the whole team that we have really enjoyed it. Unfortunately because we haven’t won this year, it is a good excuse to come back next year.”
Speaking about the future for the Royal Cavalry equestrian activities, he said “The plan is now to reduce our horses, but to increase the quality across the board for our show horses, our endurance horses and of course our racehorses. Caroline Brunuad is our racing manager, based in the south near Pau where the majority of them are trained. We will be focussing on the Gulf countries, with the best horses going out for the winter season and we will keep going with the same trainers there. Fateenah will come home for a rest now and then once we have discussed her options, she may well go out to the Gulf this winter.”
Charles Gregson, ARO Chairman congratulated the winners saying: “That was a brilliant race today, run in a fast time as you would expect on this ground. We warmly congratulate the Athbah Racing team for winning again with another homebred filly and we also congratulate our sponsors, the Royal Cavalry of Oman, who came very close to winning with theirs.”
Genny Haynes, ARO CEO commented: “We were thrilled when the Royal Cavalry of Oman confirmed their sponsorship of this race last year as they have been welcome competitors and generous sponsors here in the UK for so many years. It was a pleasure to welcome back Dr Sarhan Salim Al Zeidi, and to meet Royal Cavalry racing manager, Caroline Brunuad and general manager, Kevin Josse to a track at which they have had so many important successes and to join in with HM The Queen’s jubilee celebrations.
“ARO also congratulates Izzy Brown winning the Best Turned Out Award with Paramer Angel and thanks Newbury racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for their continued support of our racing and our international competitors.”