Five-time ARO leading trainer James Owen seeks to end the season on a high in the Emirates Breeders Novice Stakes at Wolverhampton on Tuesday September 27. Though Owen fields two with the strongest chances of winning the £3,000, nine furlong race, it won’t be enough to secure a sixth title, which will return to fellow Newmarket trainer Phil Collington, who is currently three wins ahead.
Owen’s pair are the highest rated, with recent winner for his Racing Club, Al Mahbooba, now partnered by stable amateur, Connor Baker. Baker’s seven-pound claim helps to offset the mare’s penalty, however, his other runner, Balqees is also in receipt of a five-pound allowance, that of Alice Stevens, who was on board for Al Mahbooba’s win. Balqees has already confirmed her liking for the track at Dunstall Park, winning there in May, and races in the colours of Gary Allsopp who has had a fine introduction to Arabian racing, also winning with Wanaasa earlier in the season. The Dubai based businessman has also been able to enjoy some great days out with Balqees finishing at the lesser end of the prize money in her last two black type races, and was the best of the UK challengers in the £400,000 Qatar International Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
None of the remaining runners have won, with Zayin Arabians’ Zikada Zayin, being the only other with racecourse experience. She is a sister, or half-sister to three course winners, however she was somewhat disappointing at her first attempt at this trip and surface on her most recent start, and no doubt her trainer Mitchell Hunt will be hoping that the assistance of Eoin Walsh will see her in a more competitive light.
Jakcora, who will be ridden by Georia Dobie, is one of two debutants in the field and runs in the colours of her owner-trainer Darren Plumb. She is a homebred daughter of Group 1PA winning miler Al Jakbar, also sire of Elyassaat, who gave Plumb’s late wife, Jayme, her first winner in 2017.
The only three-year-old in the race is the locally bred and trained Coljani. By Madjani, who is also the sire of the Owen pair, his dam was placed for trainer Peter Hammersley at Wolverhampton on her debut and comes from a family who have done well at this distance. He runs in the Raffles Partnership silks of his late part-breeder Colin Banks and Hammersley reports that he was pleased with the gelding’s recent galop at the track. He will be ridden by Joey Haynes who has plenty of success on Hammersley’s runners in the last three seasons.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said: “ARO is delighted that the field includes three homebreds, as supporting our domestic breeders is a key aim of our sponsors, the Emirates Breeders series, who we thank for their continued support.
“We look forward to welcoming Brendan Waterworth and Brian Watson of Racing Welfare, who we thank for sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award and also the British Horseracing Authority and the team at Wolverhampton for their assistance with our racing this year.”