Al Mahbooba and Sam Hitchcott win the First Leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series

Photo supplied by ERA

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) congratulates James Owen, and the members of his Racing Club, whose Al Mahbooba won on her second UAE start on Sunday 29 January in the first leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series. Now trained by leading UAE trainer Doug Watson and ridden by Sam Hitchcott, the seven-year-old mare appreciated both the return to an artificial surface and a stamina test, to win by three and a quarter lengths.

Speaking from his Newmarket base, Owen commented: “We are all over the moon with Al Mahboobah. Justin Byrne and I thought that she would appreciate the conditions of the marathon series and after her last two UK successes we know she stays well. She looked to win with plenty in hand over the two miles and being by Madjani, she has plenty of knee action and likes the deep surface. She will run in the next leg of the marathon series which is over two and a half miles on February 18.

“This is breaking new ground for the racing club” he continued, “and she won a tidy sum, which she needed to as it is expensive to get a horse shipped over! We have already had a good bit of uptake from this, and we will look to do it again in the future with Arabians that we think can be competitive in the UAE.”

Looking ahead to the 2023 ARO season that starts on 9 May, Owen said: “We will once again be running the Racing Club in the UK with three Arabians. The team will be headed by our homebred filly Mayfair, who should improve in her second season, along with her three-year-old sister by RB Burn, plus another to join us in the coming months.”


ARO CEO Genny Haynes commented: “ARO is thrilled to have a second UK winner overseas in less than a week. We congratulate James and all the racing club members on another win with Al Mahbooba, who rounded off last season with back-to-back victories at Southwell and Wolverhampton before export to the UAE. This win proves that it is possible for small owners and syndicates to take up the challenge of racing in the Middle East and that you do not have to be a big owner to compete abroad.

“We wish them good luck for the rest of the UAE season and hope that this may encourage others to consider the UK as a suitable starting point for Arabian racehorses before progressing overseas, which has long been a proven path to success. ARO also fully endorses the concept of syndication and racing clubs as a low-cost entry point into racehorse ownership.”