Owner-trainer-breeder Steve Blackwell got the new Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) Season off to the best possible start with his homebred mare Aloof winning from his other runner Aljawaaher, at Brighton in the (0-55) Handicap Stakes. The pair were his first two runners of 2022, with Aloof and Charlie Price finishing a length ahead of Aljawaaher and amateur jockey, Lewis Saunders, with Bin Al Reeh a further two and a half lengths away in third.

A delighted Blackwell who rode his first ever winner at the track when he was an apprentice and hadn’t been back for 43 years said: “Aloof is still very green and doesn’t know how to race. Charlie did a good job of pushing her forward and hopefully the penny should have dropped today, she’s been much better this year at home. She’s fit enough, we just need to get her head straight.”

Price commented: “We’ve jumped out and got quite a good position, I’ve had to put her in a pocket as they went quite quick in the first couple of furlongs, as soon as things settled down mid-way through the race, she started to travel and pick up the bridle, which suited me down to the ground. I’ve come upsides two horses up the run in and she put her ears back and galloped all the way to the line. She’s still green, but she’s improved an awful lot from last year.”

Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival, said: “The Festival is delighted make its’ first ever visit to Brighton racecourse and we congratulate the winners today. The Wathba Stallions Cup series aims to support our grassroots participants and Steve Blackwell’s win is a great example of what can be achieved with this sort of support.”

Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer commented: “ARO warmly congratulates Steve Blackwell for his win with his homebred mare, Aloof and for gaining second place as well. Aloof was the product of a free cover won by his mare, Spirited Game, back in 2014, so we’re really delighted for him and the patience he showed with Aloof in her first season last year.

“ARO is most grateful for the continued sponsorship by the Sheikh Mansoor Festival and we also thank the British Horseracing Authority and Brighton racecourse for their assistance with our racing, as well as The Arabian Racehorse magazine, who provided a travel concession to the seventh placed horse.”