The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) is delighted to get the new UK season underway at Royal Windsor on Monday May 16th with the Wathba Stallions Cup (0-70) handicap over a mile. The competitive looking contest is part of a series of eleven races held under the banner of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival. For 2022 the Festival has generously increased their UK commitment by sponsoring an extra five races, with the highlight being the Group 3PA HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup at Haydock in September.
The Royal Windsor race is part of the ever-popular Wathba Stallions Cup series held around the world which aims to promote the breeders of Arabian racehorses by supporting the sports’ grassroots. The races on offer range from maidens to mid-range handicaps, all of which will have a prize fund of £4000 per race. The series will certainly help several of the connections on Monday night, with last years’ leading UK owned and bred horse, Zayin Zyperion making his seasonal reappearance for Zayin Arabians, trained by Peter Hammersley and ridden by Royston Ffrench. In addition, Hammersley and fellow trainers Phil Collington, James Owen and Jamie Plumb will all have home breds of their own expected to make their debuts this season.
Zayin Arabians’ Paul Simmons said: “It’s great to be racing again. I’m looking forward to it being a competitive handicap and hopefully a good run from Zayin Zyperion. Many thanks to the Sheikh Mansoor Festival and to ARO for supporting UK Arabian racing and providing opportunities for horses at all levels.”
Also trained by Hammersley is HH Sheikha Maryram bint Maktoum Al Maktoum’s Bin Al Reeh who won a similar contest sponsored by the Festival at Bath last year, who this time will be partnered by Marco Ghiani. Last season’s leading trainer and jockey, James Owen and Hollie Doyle pair up with Awtaar. The mare runs in new colours this year, those of the James Owen Racing Club, having given Ireland’s Blackrock Racing Syndicate a great day out at Doncaster on St Leger day when finishing fifth for them in the UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby. Awtaar was one of several fillies leased from Shadwell Arabians, however Owen bought his other runner from them, the top weight Jaahez. Jamie and Darren Plumb also secured Jeewan from the 19 times leading ARO owner the previous winter, with the gelded son of Madjani twice finishing just out of the frame in their colours in 2021.
Making his UK debut will be the four-year-old colt Rebal Athbah for Phil Collington and Athbah Stud, for whom his rider Tom Marquand rode their Bayan Athbah to victory in the 2021 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup. Rebal Athbah won on his only start in Belgium last year and Collington is looking forward to seeing him run saying: “He did well to win at three, so it will be good to get him out at Windsor and learn a bit more about him.”
The HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival has played a significant role in the promotion of Arabian racing and breeding around the world since it began in 2009. The Festival aims to continue the efforts made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to preserve heritage sports and equestrian sport in particular, promoting Arabian horses and UAE heritage around the world. Sponsoring more than 150 races in 2022, the Festival supports a wide variety of contests from the grassroots to the highest level. These events culminate in one of the worlds’ most valuable Arabian horse races on Turf, the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, a Group 1 PA run in Abu Dhabi in December.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer commented: “The HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival has generously supported our racing since 2011. The first race they sponsored with us was the Wathba Stud Farm Cup Series UK Breeders Stakes, so we’re thrilled that the Wathba Stallions Cup kicks off our new season at a time when encouraging our UK owner breeders is such a priority.
“We’re looking forward to a competitive race on Monday and delighted that our leading jockey of last season, Hollie Doyle, has been booked to ride. We also thank the British Horseracing Authority and Royal Windsor racecourse for their assistance and support of our racing and Baker McVeigh International, who are sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award.”