Two progressive fillies will go head-to-head in the forthcoming Group 2PA Royal Cavalry of Oman International Stakes at Newbury on Saturday 13th August. Fateenah, owned and bred by the race sponsors and Athbah Racing’s Ekleel Athbah are closely matched on ratings and both will be seeking to gain that all important black-type win.
Worth £20,000, the six-furlong sprint will be the opening race of the BetVictor Hungerford Day card. In addition, prior to racing, Dr Sarhan Salim Al Zeidi, Director General of the Royal Cavalry of Oman will plant a Silver Birch tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to commemorate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
Travelling over from France, Fateenah bids to follow in the hoofprints of three-time race winner Al Mouhannad (2013, 2014, 2015) and her brother Al Chammy (2018), who have carried the Royal Cavalry’s colours to glory in UK Arabian racing’s most coveted sprint contest. Twice a winner over seven furlongs, she has been Group 3PA placed over a mile and was only beaten half a length by another Royal Cavalry owned runner on her latest start back at her favoured trip in Dax’s Prix Akbar at the end of June.
Her trainer Frederic Sanchez is also no stranger to success under Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) rules or at Newbury and is currently two from three from his UK raids. Speaking from his base in Pau yesterday Sanchez said of his filly: “We hope for a good result as she is fast. Seven furlongs has proved best for her so far, but a straight six furlongs should be good as well. She is in great shape and her jockey Mikael Forest knows her very well.”
Trainer Phil Collington and Athbah Racing also have a good record in this race, with Collington first winning it in 2016 with Radames for HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and again last year with Athbah Racing’s Bayan Athbah, partnered by Tadhg O’Shea. This year the team are represented by another homebred in Ekleel Athbah. Already a course and distance winner when taking the prep race a month ago, she beat her stablemate Bayan Athbah by a length and a quarter, but will be their sole representative from three entries.
Collington explained: “It was a fact-finding mission with Ekleel Athbah last time and she’s proven there now. Rebal Athbah has other options and Ekleel won’t be carrying a penalty like our other entry, Bayan Athbah, so we’re hoping for a good run from her.”
Peter Hammersley sends two, last year’s fourth Abiyah Athbah and Zayin Angkor Centurion who is on a steady comeback mission after a year off. Dilmun Racing’s three-time winner Abiyah Athbah has proved best on quick ground as her Group 3PA third placing over a mile last year has shown and she was third behind Ekleel Athbah in the prep race.
“This has been one of Abiyah Athbah’s main targets for the season, so we hope she’ll run really well” commented Hammersley. “Zayin Angkor Centurion is still probably not quite at a 100%, so we go there with the hope of picking up some prize money at the lower end. More realistically for him is the handicap at Lingfield at the end of the month.”
Five-time top ARO trainer James Owen has won a Royal Cavalry of Oman sponsored Group race at the track before with Awzaan in the Clarendon Stakes. This year his team’s hopes rest on Gary Allsopp’s Balqees who gave Allsopp a May to remember, providing him his first winner in his own colours when she beat Ekleel Athbah by a neck over a mile, three weeks after Cachet, who Allsopp is also involved with, won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. They will be hoping that Balqees can sharpen her game with the addition of a first-time visor and will renew her winning partnership with Hollie Doyle.
Completing the line-up is recent course winner, Delyth Thomas’s Paramer Angel, who beat Balqees on his seasonal reappearance in a photo over a mile and a quarter. The eleven-year-old has been runner-up over this trip in lesser company, but all three of his victories have been over further.
Genny Haynes, ARO CEO commented: “We were thrilled when the Royal Cavalry of Oman decided to take over sponsorship of this race last year, as it is a contest that always produces a top-class winner. We were also pleased to discover that they will be represented in their flagship UK race by what looks to be an exciting young homebred filly.
“The Royal Cavalry have been welcome competitors and generous sponsors in the UK for so many years. We look forward to Dr Sarhan Salim Al Zeidi joining us on Saturday, along with the Royal Cavalry’s Racing Managers Caroline Brunaud and Kevin Josse to a track at which they have had so many important successes and to join in with HM The Queen’s jubilee celebrations.
“ARO also thanks Newbury racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for their continued support of our racing and our international competitors.”