There was further homebred success for Mrs Skepper and her daughter Jane Marson, this time with Heritage Valentino who stepped up on his recent second to win the £4,000 Wathba Stallions Cup (0-55) handicap at Wolverhampton this afternoon. Having scored with his brother Heritage Vadel earlier in the year, this time it was the five-year-old son of Vadeer’s turn to bring the family into the winner’s enclosure. Trained by James Owen and ridden by Kieran O’Neill, the grey soon went to the front in a slowly run race and was never headed, with the consistent Aljawaaher two and threequarters of a length in second and Kayack a further length and three quarters adrift in third.
Owner breeder Mrs Skepper commented: “We’re delighted with him. The jockey said he felt like he could go round again so we’ll be looking for some longer races for him now.”
Riding only his second UK winner on an Arabian, O’Neill said: “There wasn’t a lot of pace, James had said to try and get cover early on, but there wasn’t really many going forward so I let him go to the front and when he got there he had a good look around. As soon as we got the three pole I ask him to go on again and he went away nicely. The further he went, the better he got and he didn’t stop.”
Representing Owen on this occasion was Alex Chadwick who said: “It’s great for the owners, I think Valentino is learning his job a lot more now. I think Kieran gave him a very good ride today, he’s been a bit keen early on, but letting him bowl along and have a nice lead in front has paid dividends, so hopefully he can improve again. He might be out again next week at Southwell.”
In keeping with the countrywide recognition by British horseracing of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, fifteen minutes before the start, there was a two minute silence held in the paddock, in addition to all the jockeys wearing black arm bands as a mark of respect.
Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival, said: “The Sheikh Mansoor Festival is pleased to be back at Wolverhampton, and we congratulate the Skepper family winning with a homebred, as it is an important aspect of the Wathba Stallions Cup series to support the breeding of Arabian racehorses.”
Genny Haynes, Arabian Racing Organisation Chief Executive Officer commented: “ARO is delighted that yet again all the entries stood their ground, and we thank the Sheikh Mansoor Festival for all their sponsorship this season, especially for races at this level which are the lifeblood of our grassroots sport. We warmly congratulate Mrs Skepper and her daughter Jane Marson for another homebred winner this season, particularly during National Racehorse Week and all the team at Green Ridge Stables.
“We also thank Wolverhampton racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for supporting our racing, particularly during this time of mourning for HM The Queen.”