The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomed a field of eight to their first visit to Royal Windsor this season for the Wathba Stallions Cup Novice Stakes to be run over a mile. The majority of runners are young unexposed types with two of the four horses in their classic season looking to be live UK Arabian Derby possibles later on in the year. This the second of eight races sponsored by the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival, which also includes the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup (Gr3PA), which this year has a prize fund increase to £20,000.
Those four-year-old Derby hopefuls both come from the stable of 2022 leading ARO trainer, Phil Collington and both run in the colours of last years’ top owner, Athbah Racing. Recent Doncaster winner, Thakeera Al Shahania will be ridden by Tom Marquand, successful here for the same connections with Ekleel Athbah last year, a filly who went on to win a Group 2PA and run at the Saudi Cup meeting. Athbah Racing’s homebred filly Thaydah Athbah was Collington’s first winner of the year when scoring over shorter in Belgium in January, she will be ridden by Athbah Racing regular, ten time UAE champion jockey, Tadgh O’Shea.
The most experienced horse in the race, is the one with the least distance to travel, Kayack. Trained by owner-breeder, Jen Harris from her base in Epsom and ridden by apprentice Kia Fraser, he showed up well on his reappearance and could exploit any greenness in his young rivals. Another small stable fielding a homebred is that of Bridgend based Steve Blackwell. His Sassy, partnered by Jordan Williams, makes her belated appearance at the same track that provided her dam with her first win. Trainer Pete Hammerlsey is also the co-breeder of Coljani, a once raced colt, who will have Phil Dennis on board for his seasonal reappearance.
Current ARO leading trainer, who is also in great form with his thoroughbreds over fences, is Newmarket handler James Owen, who runs three fillies. Storm Hannah bred by his parents, makes her debut under stable amateur Teagan Padgett who has scored twice already in her first season on Arabians. Owen is also breeder or co-breeder of both Delicatesse, ridden by Georgia Dobie, and Victoria ridden by Callum Hutchinson, who all run in the colours of his popular Racing Club.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “ARO is most grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival through their Wathba Stallions Cup races which are specifically aimed at the grassroots our sport, both here, and around the world. We look forward to returning to Royal Windsor on Monday, with an exciting field of young horses, some of which could end up with black-type by the end of the season.
“We also thank Baker McVeigh International for sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award for this race.”