Athbah Racing achieved a one two in the Nizwa Fort Conditions Stakes with Ekleel Athbah getting the better of her stablemate Bayan Athbah by a length and a quarter at Newbury today. The six-furlong contest saw some of the UK’s best Arabians turn out, with Abiyah Athbah, another Athbah homebred now owned by Dilmun Racing, a further four and a quarter lengths behind in third place.
A strong pace had been set by former Group3PA winner Storm Troupour who was making his seasonal reappearance, however he lacked the fitness of the rest of the field and his efforts came to an end at halfway, when Abiyah Athbah took up the running. Ray Dawson gave the mare every chance however the six furlongs has proved too sharp for her on more than one occasion, and she had to concede to Bayan Athbah who was seeking a second course and distance win. That had come at Group2PA level in the Royal Cavalry of Oman International Stakes last year, but it was her stablemate that had the greater turn of foot. Ekleel Athbah, having been held up early on by Sam Hitchcott, was travelling easily and despite jinking left in the final strides readily got on top at the finish.
Crossing the line in a time of 1.18.11 it may not have topped the hand timed record set by Bayan Athbah last year of 1.17.65, however it was still well ahead of the previous record of 1.18.88 set by Nashwan Al Khalediah when winning the Zabeel International Stakes (Gr1PA) in 2010.
Afterwards a delighted Collington said: “Ekleel running in this race was a bit of a trial to see if what she was showing at home would be proven right on the racecourse. She’s shown that’s she’s progressing fast and I still thought that Bayan would out point her, but Bayan will come on for that run, although she was already very fit. Bayan probably needs headgear now, but take nothing away from Ekleel, she’s stepped up again so I’m very pleased with them both.
“We’ll have a good think about where next for Ekleel, the Derby is still an option, she’s also in at Goodwood and there are races abroad for her. Bayan will most probably go to Goodwood next.”
After the race Hitchcott said: “She’s every right to be a bit green at the end, Phil did say she’d be better arriving late and I admitted to him that I probably got there too soon, because I didn’t want his other filly to get too far ahead, as she’s proven at the trip. This filly’s on the up and is very versatile as regards to trip. She’ll be a nice prospect going forward for the owners and for Phil. Good Arabians get any trip you want them too and she’s got a good mind, so fingers crossed for the future.”
Bill Smith, ARO Director commented: “This was a really exciting race which produced a great finish from three of our best mares and we congratulate Athbah Racing, Phil and his team on their success. We thank Colonel Nasser Awladwoder, Assistant Director General of the Royal Cavalry of Oman for Technical Affairs, who presented the trophies to the winning connections.”
Concluded he said: “ARO also thanks Newbury racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for their continued support of our racing and Baker McVeigh International for sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award won by Liz Sian for Abiyah Athbah.”