The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) looks forward to their first PA Group race of the season, the £25,000 International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) Trophy at Chester to be run on Saturday July 1. The race will have an international aspect thanks to the UK debut of Qatari Group 1PA winner, AJS Saaeq who faces last year’s winner, Ekleel Athbah, making her UK reappearance following her sixth place in the Al Mneefah Cup (Gr2PA) at the Saudi Cup meeting.
AJS Saaeq shoulders a penalty for that Group 1PA win in the Qatar International Cup over a mile and will be ridden for a second time by ten times UAE Champion jockey, Tadhg O’Shea. He is one of three horses currently summering in Newmarket with their trainer Mohammed bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah, who has already had his first UK runner, with Empty Metaphor running in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“We are using this race as prep for the Qatar International Stakes at Goodwood.” Al-Attiyah commented, “The timing is good, there’s a good gap between the races. AJS Saaeq has not run since the Gold Sword in April, so hopefully there will be some improvement to come.
“We are enjoying the UK. I think it’s a good place to be with your horse in the summer. We’ve used a variety of different gallops here in Newmarket and we enjoyed going to Royal Ascot, though I think the horse ran to his handicap mark. Hopefully we can go back next year with better horses.
“Of course, we were all very happy for Wathnan Racing owned by HH The Amir to do so well at Royal Ascot, and hopefully it is the start of bigger and better things for him and for Qatari racing in general.”
Last year’s winner Ekleel Athbah is one of two runners from 2022 ARO leading trainer, Phil Collington, who said, “Obviously for Ekleel Athbah it will be her first run back after the Saudi Cup in February, where she didn’t get the extended mile and a quarter. This was always the plan as she needed a break, and we weren’t going to hurry her. Sam Hitchcott has won on her before, breaking Newbury’s track record for this distance for Arabians and this will be a steppingstone to Goodwood.
“As for my other runner, Lujain, she came out of her race last month well, so we thought we’d try her at six furlongs. The goal for her would still be the UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby at Doncaster in August.”
Peter Hammersley returns with last year’s third and fourth, Abiyah Athbah and Zayin Angkor Centurion. Whilst the domestic challenge is completed by Gavin Kelly’s Mulan.
Andrew Tulloch, Head of Racing at Chester Racecourse, said, “Chester Racecourse is delighted to be staging the ARO’s first black type race of the year, the IFAHR Trophy, on Saturday. Marking the welcome return of Arabian racing to the world’s oldest racecourse for the first time since 2004, we would like to thank the ARO for the opportunity to showcase this renowned, Purebred Arabian sprinting contest, in what promises to be a thrilling finale to our racecard.”
Adam Ferguson, Head of Community Engagement at Racing Welfare, sponsors of the Best Turned Out Award commented, “We are delighted to be involved in the sponsorship of the award at this prestigious meeting at Chester Racecourse during Racing Staff Week. As the charity supporting the people working within the industry, engaging with and raising awareness of our support is a fundamental element of our work. We hope that by supporting the Best Turned Out series with ARO, those working within this community become more aware of the support available to them and recognise themselves as part of racing’s community.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “ARO is delighted to be returning to Chester with such a high-profile contest after a near 20-year absence, as it’s always a pleasure to introduce our sport to a new audience.
Under its previous title of the Za’abeel International and latterly the Royal Cavalry of Oman International, the six-furlong contest has a long history of confirming top class sprinters in the sport.
“We also welcome Mohammed bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah to the UK and are pleased to hear that his experience of training and racing here has been so positive. The encouragement of international competition is exactly what we wanted to achieve with this race, and we hope that more international stables may see the UK as a suitable base for a summer campaign.
“We thank IFAHR, Racing Welfare and Chester for supporting our racing this season and look forward to a competitive race on Saturday.”