The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) enjoyed a busy two days hosting the HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival at Royal Windsor racecourse on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th August. The culmination of the Festival’s races in the UK, the highlight was a win for Hajres in the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Gr1PA), becoming the first Tunisian-bred winner of a Group 1 PA race in the UK. The following day Helen Böhler riding Kamikaze won the UK stage of HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR). The two-day mixed meeting had begun with UK stage of HH Sheikha Lateefa bint Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Championship race, run as part of the Charles Owen Series, which was won by Megan Bevan.
The prestigious HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Gr1PA) had attracted eight runners including the 2017 winner Mith’haf Athbah and four other Group winners from the UK, Sweden and France. The mile contest was the first Group 1 race ever to be held at Royal Windsor racecourse, who have previously hosted the ARO Cup (Gr3PA) and whose top race for thoroughbreds is the Winter Hill Stakes (Group 3). The steady early pace was set by stable companions Storm Troupour and Kao Kat MHF, though entering the final furlong Storm Troupour’s run was fading and the Phil Collington trained pair of Mith’Haf Athbah and Mehdaaf Athbah were in a line with Macallan, with a fast finishing Hajres coming down the centre of the course. It was Hajres and Jean-Bernard Eyquem who proved the dominant force, pulling clear of Mehdaaf Athbah and Swedish challenger Macallan, to win by three quarters of a length, with 2017 winner Mith’haf Athbah in fourth.
Hajres (Jean-Bernard Eyquem) wins H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Group 1PA)
After the race Eyquem said: “We started well, but I did not want to be going too quickly too early. When the pace picked up, I felt I was getting there too soon, so I waited behind horses, until we got to the last furlong and then we go. I love this horse, he is good.”
Elizabeth Bernard who trains Hajres for Emadadein Althoushi from her base at La Teste in France commented: “I am so happy, this is the only horse I have for his owner, who is from Libya. Hajres was born and bred in Tunisia and he has won a Group 3PA in France, a Group 3 PA in Morocco and now a Group 1PA in England. It is a wonderful achievement.”
The ten-runner HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) race featured jockeys from Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK. The race produced a clear-cut win for Böhler and Kamikaze who finished nearly three lengths ahead of Zayin Zachilles, with Vindetta, trained like the winner by Adam Newey for the Almost All Partnership, in third.
This was 21-year-old Böhler’s first experience of riding Arabians, she is currently based in Cologne with former German champion jockey turned trainer Peter Schiergen. Talking of her experience she said: “I have no background in racing, though my parents took me racing as a child and then I started to help out with a local trainer, grooming and so on. Since then I have taken out my amateur jockey’s licence and this is my fourth winner today. We have a lot of amateur races in Germany and amateurs can ride in every race so there are a lot of opportunities there. I look forward to the experience of riding in the finals in November.”
Kamikaze wins the H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) under German rider Helen Böehler.
The HH Sheikha Lateefa bint Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Championship race, drew seven runners and also produced a ready winner in Motor Edd ridden by 15-year-old Megan Bevan. Bevan has been competing in UK pony races for six years and is currently lying in third place in the Charles Owen Series. She was clearly thrilled with her win saying: “Before the race I was hoping to come in the top four so we could get some points for the Charles Owen Series. I think it’s amazing to be able to go to Abu Dhabi in November to ride in the Sheikha Lateefa Pony Racing Finals, it’s a great opportunity. I never dreamed it would happen.”
Clarissa Daly, Chief Executive of the Pony Racing Authority in the UK commented: “We were delighted to be invited to run a pony race at the Sheikh Mansoor Festival at Windsor and for Megan to ride her first Series winner. Thank you to everyone involved for their support of pony racing and for giving the kids such an amazing opportunity.”
Motor Edd and Megan Bevan win the H.H. Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Race.
The HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Gr1PA) is the highlight of HH Sheikh Mansoor Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival events in the UK. These began with a stage of the Wathba Stallions Cup, run at Chelmsford City in June won by Mawarid, trained by James Owen and was a first winner for novice jockey Isaac Buncle. A second Wathba Stallions Cup was run at Lingfield Park the previous Saturday and produced a notable one-two for Delyth Thomas who owns and trains the winner, Callymay and the second, Kork MHF.
Genny Haynes, ARO Commercial and Finance Director said: “We are delighted to welcome back the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup to the UK and are proud that this is also the first Group 1 event that Royal Windsor racecourse has hosted. The win of the French-trained, Libyan-owned and Tunisian-bred Hajres continues to underline our commitment to international racing in the UK, which of course the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival also does so much to support around the world.
“We congratulate Helen Böhler achieving a win on her first ride on an Arabian in the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) race. The series is a wonderful opportunity for lady riders from around the world to compete against each other and share their knowledge.
“ARO is extremely grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival and Lara Sawaya and we thank all the team at Royal Windsor racecourse for their efforts over the two days. We also thank Clarissa Daly of the UK Pony Racing Authority for enabling us to host the first pony race in association with ARO.”
Continuing their commitment to the ARO stable staff, Racing Welfare sponsored the Best Turned Out Award for both Arabian races with a cash prize £20 and a Racing Welfare gilet presented to the winning grooms, Tina Collins (Mith’haf Athbah) and Becca Thomas (Kayclaire) by Lizzie Harris.