The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted to see some of the world’s very best Arabians among the 21 horses entered in the Qatar International Stakes (Gr1PA), as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Following the close of declarations today, they are excited to find that the race promises to be another vintage renewal. The 11 runner field includes two of the world’s leading older horses in Ebraz and Tayf, who will take on two of the leading younger horses in Deryan and Lady Princess. It is no surprise that despite the international challenges presented by Covid, they have been attracted to the £400,000 mile contest sponsored by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC), run as the opening race on Wednesday 28 July. Since it’s inauguration in 2015, the race is the most valuable in UK Arabian racing and the most valuable over that distance for Arabians in Europe.
Four of the first five home in the 2020 edition all re-oppose and whilst the Sussex course’s mile is famous for its’ thoroughbred ‘Duel on the Downs’, Arabian racing has its’ own, with Ebraz facing Tayf for a fifth consecutive time. Tayf won the first round in 2017 by a nose, and since then Ebraz has had the upper hand, finishing second to Muraaqib in 2018, winning the last two and now bids for a record-breaking hat-trick in the race. However since last August, Tayf has bested Ebaz in Paris’s Qatar Arabian World Cup and in the Qatar Gold Sword, both top level contests over 1m2f.
To add further intrigue, the small, but mighty three-time Group 1PA winner Lady Princess is making her UK debut. She has recent form with both horses from Qatar’s premier race the 1m4f HH The Amir’s Sword. That contest produced a one-two for stablemates Mon’nia and Ebraz, but Lady Princess was less than a length behind in third, with Tayf over six lengths away in fourth. She will again benefit from her mares’ allowance, which coupled with her electric turn of foot, could prove decisive over this shorter trip.
Also making the journey from France is Deryan. The world’s top-rated Arabian on Dirt, he now has to prove he is worthy of that rating on Turf, as split ratings don’t apply in the international classifications. Deryan came into this race last year on the back of his first Group 1PA win at Deauville and though he travelled well throughout, he had to concede the win to Ebraz by just under two lengths, with Tayf only a nose behind him in third. Since then, he caught the eye when fifth in the Obaiya Classic at the Saudi Cup, before cementing his position at the top of the international rankings with a superb win in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup night at Meydan.
An additional dimension to the race will be that the majority of the international runners will have new partners. HH Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani’s Tayf has always been the mount of Olivier Peslier at Goodwood, though Ronan Thomas, who has ridden him to win in Qatar, including in the Gold Sword, flew in for quarantine to secure the ride. Ebraz has been successful for a number of partners, though his two wins here have been for Maxime Guyon. This year HE Sheikha Reem bint Mohammed Al Thani’s imposing grey will have nine times UAE Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea aboard. O’Shea who is no stranger to Arabians, is excited to be offered the ride and last rode in the blue and white stars in the race in 2015. Khalifa bin Sheail Al Kuwari’s Lady Princess has almost exclusively been ridden by either Julien Augé or Christophe Soumillon, but will have Oisin Murphy in the saddle on Wednesday. Murphy has had several Arabian rides in the UK this season, but has also ridden them in the Gulf, finishing second in the 2018 Kahayla Classic on Chaddad.
Of course for those outside of Arabian racing, the most eye-catching booking will be that for Deryan. YAS Racing’s young star is usually partnered by Ioritz Mendizabal, but he will have the benefit of Frankie Dettori at the helm, currently on a roll of three consecutive Longines world’s best jockey titles, among his numerous accolades. Dettori is an infrequent partner of the original racehorse, but has ridden the likes of Al Mamun Monlau in the Kahayla Classic and is definitely no stranger to success at Goodwood.
Whilst The UK challenge might not be of quite the same lofty standard, it is headed by its’ highest rated horse Al Kaaser, who will be flying the flag for syndicates in UK Arabian racing and making his debut for new leaseholders Emirates Entertainment Racing Club and Green Ridge Racing. The EERC is well known in the UAE and have even had ex-UK Arabians running for them in the Emirates, though this is their first foray into the sport in the UK. Al Kaaser will be partnered by Rossa Ryan who boasts a 100 percent strike rate in UK Arabian races from two rides this term.
The highest placed UK owned and trained finisher of 2020 was Abiyah Athbah. Dilmun Racing’s mare was fifth here by a short head on her seasonal return and this term with two runs under her belt, she may have more to offer. She has struck up a winning partnership with Joey Haynes, who though absent last year, is back on board here.
Farhaa is the leading UK older mare who has won twice at this distance. Though she did disappoint when last tried at Listed PA level, she comes into the race in great form and will be joined by two other Shadwell Estates runners in Toofan and Loolwa. Toofan is a distance winner stepping up to pattern company for the first time, whilst Loolwa was third in this grade on her debut in the UK Arabian Derby last year. This season she was runner-up in a Belgian Listed PA race on her latest start over much further and could easily improve, dropped down to this trip for the first time.
Group3 PA sprint winner Storm Troupour will be making his fourth appearance in the race, whilst Paramer Angel will start as the outsider, making his first racecourse appearance in two years. On previous form he was quite closely matched with Abiyah Athbah, but the mare has improved past him since they last met in 2019.
Between the four individual Group 1 PA winners and the further seven horses declared, they have collectively won 60 races between them. The overall prize fund for the Qatar International Stakes is £400,000, with £226,840 to the winner. There will also be a prize of £250 awarded to the groom of the Best Turned Out horse.
His Excellency Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, QREC Chairman said: “We are proud of our sponsorship of the Qatar International Stakes as one of our most valuable races and part of our commitment to promote Arabian racing. We are very pleased to see this race, once again, attracting some of the world’s top Arabians and promising to be a fabulous addition to the Qatar Goodwood Festival. I’m sure fans of all forms of racing will be fascinated by the spectacle of the Arabian horses at Goodwood. QREC would like to thank ARO and Goodwood for the excellent coordination and cooperation.”
Genny Haynes ARO Commercial and Finance Director commented: “The Qatar International Stakes always attracts quality horses, as you would expect with the very generous prize money on offer. It is very pleasing to see Ebraz and Tayf return, as their rivalry across three continents over the last five years has really caught the wider racing public’s imagination. It is also exciting to see the up-and-coming horses, Lady Princess and Deryan join in with what promises to be race for the history books.
“We’re also pleased to see some of our best of domestic Arabians stand their ground. The opportunities to try our horses at the highest level both here and internationally have been limited because of Covid and we hope that some of them prove that they can progress further.
She continued: “It is also encouraging to see some well-known jockeys getting a chance to ride in our most valuable race which hopefully may encourage new followers to our sport.”
Haynes concluded: “ARO is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of UK Arabian racing by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, for whom this will be their seventh year sponsoring this race at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. We would also like to thank the British Horseracing Authority and everyone at Goodwood and Fontwell racecourses for their assistance in ensuring that our overseas runners in particular, have every chance to participate on Wednesday, whilst we continue to face the challenge of Covid.”