The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was delighted to announce trainer James Owen as the recipient of the 2023 Arabian Racing Achievement Award. The award was presented as part of the Horserace Writers’ and Photographers’ Association (HWPA) 57th Annual Derby Awards on Monday 4 December, at the Royal Lancaster, London. Now in its’ tenth year, the award, once again generously sponsored by Equine MediRecord, recognises an individual or organisation for their contribution to UK Arabian racing.

Since scoring with his first Arabian runner in 2015 and ending that season as Leading Newcomer, Newmarket based Owen has consistently been in the top ranks of UK Arabian racing, winning five trainers titles and finishing runner-up three times.

Running a small string of point-to-pointers alongside, he has also maintained successful pre-training business, most notably starting off 2022 Derby winner Desert Crown. Following the BHA announcement that thoroughbred trainers could also train Arabians as they do overseas, at the end of the 2022 ARO season he was the first ARO trainer to take out his BHA licence. Hitting the ground running with thoroughbreds almost as quickly as with Arabians, Owen was in the top ten National Hunt trainers this summer. He also has a live Cheltenham JCB Triumph Hurdle contender in Burdett Road, a horse he also pre-trained for long standing supporters of the yard, the Gredley family.

As a former nine times East Anglian Point-to-Point champion jockey, who also partnered over 50 Arabian winners, he understands the importance of supporting young riders. By giving his stable amateurs rides in Arabian races over the summer he has been able to retain a strong core of good riders, with the best of them now able to further their careers under rules.

With Arabians to date, he has been integral in the success of many of ARO’s leading amateur jockeys – including Joanna Mason (three times lady champion), Antonia Peck (lady champion and best known in thoroughbred circles as Cachet’s groom), and Alex Chadwick (twice ARO champion) who has remained at the yard as an amateur to ride over fences, as well as Hollie Doyle (the first female professional ARO champion and overall ARO champion). This season another Owen stable amateur claimed the title in Teagan Padgett. She rattled up a sequence of four wins on Upstart Crow, before steering that one to a black type placing in her first ever ride in an Arabian Group race on the Sprint Cup card at Haydock in September.

Owen had stated right from the start of the 2023 ARO season that his stable amateurs would ride when they could do the weight, and was delighted for their success saying, “This season has been great for Teagan, Rhea and Jamie to get going, particularly Teagan who’s won four on Upstart Crow, who’s been a big asset to the yard. I think Arabian racing is a great grounding for the kids, they work hard for me, you need full time staff, as there’s a lot of work to be done on a daily basis and to be able to reward them by giving them rides really helps.

“They’re not easy to ride, some of these Arabians. Riding a horse that’s not always going forward is hard and it’s a good education for them. Teagan was very lucky with Upstart Crow, as he’s a different sort of horse, but I want them all to be competitive and do the best they can, and they’ve really improved. Alex is a good amateur for us, Jamie’s turned conditional and is doing well, Teagan will probably end up going down the apprentice route, she’s a tidy rider. Rhea tries the hardest out of all them and has done really well, whether she’ll ride again next year I don’t know, but she does most of my travelling now.”

Finlay Dargan, Equine MediRecord Chief Operations Officer, who presented the award said, “We are proud to sponsor the Arabian Achievement Award that raises Arabian racing’s profile at this prestigious annual event. We highly value our associate sponsorship with ARO in the UK and are already looking forward to next season.

 “We congratulate James Owen on winning the award for supporting his staff in their riding careers and for bridging the gap between Arabian and Thoroughbred racing in the UK. We wish him every success in the future.”

Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “This season has been a turning point for our sport in the UK following its acquisition by the Arena Racing Company. It is fitting that James, who has supported all his young riders using Arabian racing as a training ground, has these achievements recognised. We hope that he can now put that Arabian experience to good use as he develops his own career with Thoroughbreds.”

Concluding she said, “We thank the Horserace Writer’s and Photographers’ Association for their continued support of UK Arabian racing, allowing us to acknowledge the achievements of our participants in this way. We also thank Equine MediRecord for their continued sponsorship, as well as the Hong Kong Jockey Club, BioWave, World Pool and Coral for supporting the 57th HWPA Annual Derby Awards.”