Thakeera Al Shahania and former three-time ARO leading lady jockey, Joanna Mason impressed with a five and a half-length UK debut win in the Emirates Breeders Conditions Stakes at Doncaster today. Trainer Phil Collington confirmed afterwards that she will head to the £80,0000 Group 1PA UAE President Cup (UK Arabian Derby) back at the same track on August 19. Running a solid race in defeat were the Peter Hammersley trained, three-time PA Group placed Abiyah Athbah, with her stablemate, another black-type performer, Zayin Angkor Centurion, a further length and three quarters away in third.
Mason, who was having her first ride back on an Arabian since 2020, spoke of her win on Thakeera Al Shahania saying, “She was a bit fractious in the stalls, but not too bad. She jumped off well enough, I actually ended up switching left a little bit, as I wanted to have the better horses in front of me to take me into it. I was off the bridle pretty early, but she kept galloping to the line.
“Obviously, a step up in trip will suit her ideally, but I was pushing and she kept giving, so in the end she’s won quite nicely and she gave me a great feel. It’s nice to get back on the Arabians, it’s been a while.”
This was a first UK win of the season for 2022 leading trainer, Collington, who got off the mark for the year in Belgium with another Athbah four-year-old, Thaydah Athbah, in January. He was delighted with all his runners, saying, “You couldn’t be more pleased with Thakeera today, she was obviously still showing signs of greenness and she was behind the bridle, but once she’s caught on to the heels of the leaders, she’s then started to stay on strongly. The ten furlongs of the Derby trip would be ideal for her and Jo’s confirmed it. She’s obviously talented to do what she’s done today.
“We definitely thought she’d improve from her first run in Belgium behind older horses, but it’s hard to work out how good she was coming into the race because she’s only been working with the maiden, Jameelaty, who we thought was decent anyway. She’ll certainly come on for this experience too, but Shakeera, if you had worked her even a month ago with the likes of Ekleel Athbah or Thaydah Athbah, she’d have found that very hard.
“I’m pleased with Lujain as well, she’s run a great race and she’d be very similar to Thakeera, I think it’s more a case that Thakeera shows us a lot more on raceday than she does at home, though you have to consider that Lujain is giving her five pounds for her win. So I’m really pleased with both of them.”
Also significant for breeders was the fact that Thakeera Al Shahania is the first UK runner for rising stallion star Al Mourtajez. From his first crop, of which she is a part, the world’s highest rated Arabian racehorse has already produced eight individual PA Group performers, including the four-year-old colt, Al Ghadeer, a dual Group 1PA winner and currently favourite for the French Arabian Derby to be run at Chantilly on Prix de Diane day.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “That was an impressive performance from a young horse who clearly has more to learn. It’s certainly made our Derby picture look a lot more interesting! We’re delighted for Athbah Racing, Phil and his team, and it’s great to see Joanna, who did so well on Arabians as an amateur, gain a success like this now she’s riding so well as a professional. Let’s hope she’ll be back on board a few more now.”
“We’re also thrilled to be back at Doncaster and we thank Racing Welfare and their representative, Gail Burton-Pye who presented the Best Turned Out award of a £40 cash prize to Liz Sian for Abiyah Athbah.”