The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomed 14 entries for the Qatar International Stakes, a Group 1PA run over a mile as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Wednesday 2 August. The £400,000 race is the most valuable Arabian race in the UK and the most valuable race over a mile for Arabians in Europe. The race has seen many of the highest rated Arabians in the world compete and win such as Al Mourtajez, Muraaqib, Tayf, dual winner Ebraz and the returning Lady Princess, who is seeking a hattrick in the race.
Trained by Thomas Fourcy for Khalifa bin Sheail Al Kuwari, the diminutive mare has now won nine top level races, however she is on the comeback trail having been beaten by another entry, First Classs when they met in the Jewel Crown in Abu Dhabi in December. Leased by Noora Racing from his breeders Cre Run Farm, First Classs is the winner of three $1million dollar races. Along with the Jewel Crown, his victories include Saudi’s Al Mneefah Cup and Dubai’s Kahayla Classic, appearing equally effective on both Turf and Dirt, in addition to being proven over this trip in his native USA.
Qatari trainer Mohammed bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah has entered Al Jeryan Stud’s AJS Saaeq, winner of the Qatar International Cup (Gr1PA) over this distance in February at the HH The Amir Sword Festival. Also from Qatar is Jabalah, trained by Alban de Mieulle for Wathnan Racing, who won the Qatar Derby for Three Year Olds in Doha in 2019.
Lady Princess and Jim Crowley win the 2022 Qatar International Stakes (Gr1PA) at the Qatar Goodwood Festival © Debbie Burt
Representing the younger generation is Al Ghadeer from Al Shaqab Racing who first won this race in 2016 with Al Ghadeer’s sire, Al Mourtajez. He is one of three multiple Group 1PA winners entered by Francois Rohaut and comes here on the back of his success in the Qatar Derby des Pur-Sang Arabes de 4 Ans at Chantilly. Rohaut also has last years’ French Arabian Derby winner, HE Sheikha Reem bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Samlla, who finished third to Lady Princess in 2022 and Moshrif, who is a half-brother to Rohaut’s 2017 winner, Muraaqib, who runs in the same colours as Lady Princess.
Also entered from France is Ghazi Al Zaman, trained by Damien de Watrigant, for owner-breeder Dr Mohammed Al Nujaifi. Al Nujaifi is also the breeder of Al Ghadeer to whom Ghazi Al Zaman finished runner-up to in May in the Prix Damas – Al Nujaifi Racing. Holland’s Gerard Zoetelief has entered the four-year-old filly Papillion T, a daughter of Al Mourtajez from the family of his superstar mare Prada T who was placed three times in this race.
The domestic challenge is headed by the UK’s highest rated mare Ekleel Athbah, who is seeking to add to her Group 2PA win of 2022. Trained by Phil Collington for her breeders Athbah Stud, she was sixth in the Al Mneefah Cup in February, Collington has also entered the promising four-year-old Lujain for John Elliott. Elliott is the breeder of Upstart Crow, trained by five-time leading ARO trainer James Owen for Linda Reeves, entered alongside Jaahez who may run for Owen’s Racing Club. Whilst Leicestershire based handler Peter Hammersley fields Dilmun Racing’s Abiyah Athbah, fifth in 2020, this could be her fourth appearance in the race.
Al Ghadeer and Christophe Soumillon win the Qatar Derby des Pur-Sang Arabes de 4 Ans at Chantilly on Sunday © Debbie Burt
HE Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club Chairman commented: “We are proud of our sponsorship of the Qatar International Stakes as one of our most valuable races and part of our commitment to promote Arabian racing, which has a tremendous heritage in Qatar. We are very pleased to see this race, once again, attracting some of the world’s best Arabians such as Lady Princess and Al Ghadeer. Thanks to the excellent cooperation with ARO and Goodwood, this 2023 edition promises to be very competitive and fans of all forms of racing will be fascinated by the spectacle of the Arabian horses at the Goodwood Festival.”
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer commented: “Ever since the first running at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in 2015, the Qatar International Stakes has always attracted the worlds’ leading Arabians, as you would expect with the very generous prize money on offer. Year on year is it an absolute privilege to see such quality Arabians compete in this race and showcase our sport to a wider audience.”
Concluding she said: “ARO is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of UK Arabian racing by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, and as a Group 1 race it is an early closer, so we will be accepting supplementary entries until 27 July.”