The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was thrilled to announce a top quality field for the Qatar International Stakes, a Group 1PA run over a mile as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Wednesday 2nd 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. All eight runners are PA Group winners rated 112 or more, with two already proven at this level over a mile in Qatar.
Top rated on 125 is Al Ghadeer, winner of the Qatar Derby des Pur-Sang Arabes de 4 Ans at Chantilly in a record time, as well as two other Group 1PA races when ridden by Christophe Soumillon, who will be on board on Wednesday. Owned like his sire, 2016 winner Al Mourtajez by Al Shaqab Racing, he is trained by François Rohaut.
After his Derby win Rohaut commented, “Al Ghadeer is something special and is the dominant force of his generation. The big guns are heading our way because we’re now going to have to take on the older horses. That said, he’s one of the very best horses of his breed that I’ve been lucky enough to train. His turn of foot is something else. He’s a headstrong horse who needs his races to be run at a true gallop. Al Ghadeer has found it all so easy in his races because, so far, he’s only had to battle on just one occasion. That was at Doha. The trip [at Goodwood] will be perfect for him as he has a lot of speed.”
Heading the older horses on 124 is First Classs, a winner of three $1million dollar races in 2022, he is leased by his breeders Cre Run Farm to Noora Racing, and will be reunited with regular partner, Ronan Thomas. Along with the Abu Dhabi’s Jewel Crown, his victories include Saudi’s Al Mneefah Cup and Dubai’s Kahayla Classic, all around ten furlongs and appearing equally effective on both Turf and Dirt.
However he is proven over this distance in his native USA and was fifth in this last year on his debut for current trainer Jean de Mieulle who commented, “He comes here after a few months break, but he has had two racecourse gallops on the grass, the horse is in very good shape and I’m very happy with his work. Hopefully the pace will be strong and the ground won’t be too heavy, like in 2017! The level of the horses in the race is amazing, it is going to be a beautiful renewal.”
Also part of the Rohaut team will be Moshrif and Samlla who finished first and fourth in a Group 3PA at La Teste at the start of the month. Moshrif is owned by Khalifa bin Sheail Al Kuwari who had success with dual winner Lady Princess, whilst Samlla runs in the colours of HE Sheikha Reem bint Mohammed Khalifa Al Thani, who also had a dual winner of the race in Ebraz. Both horses have won at this level in France and both have won over a mile in Doha. Their respective jockeys are also the two most successful in the race with two wins apiece, Jim Crowley on Lady Princess and Muraaqib (a half-brother to Moshrif), and Maxime Guyon on Ebraz.
Also travelling over from France is Jabalah, trained by Alban de Mieulle, for the new great force in the sport, Wathnan Racing. He boasts solid winning form over a mile and was the winner of the Qatar Derby for Three Year Olds in 2019 beating future Goodwood winner, Lady Princess. It will be the seven-year-olds first run in Europe and he will be partnered by William Buick. Also making the journey over is top French mare Sahab, to be ridden by Oisin Murphy, she is owned by Mohamed bin Fahad Al Attiyah. A winner of the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Juments, a Group 1PA on Arc weekend, she is making her second start for new trainer Elizabeth Bernard, who trained the race’s first winner, Sir Bani Yas in 2015.
Qatari trainer Mohammed bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah has set up a satellite yard in Newmarket for both Arabians and Thoroughbreds and has already trained his first UK winner, AJS Lattam. He runs recent IFAHR Trophy second AJS Saaeq, who was also a winner of the Qatar International Cup (Gr1PA) over this distance in February at the HH The Amir Sword Festival. He commented, “Goodwood was always the plan after he won the Qatar International Cup. Chester didn’t go to plan, but he showed that’s he’s in good form, hopefully fitness wise, he’s improved. His regular jockey Szczepan Mazur is flying in and he’s really excited to be riding there. It’s an achievement to have a runner at such a big meeting and we’re hoping for a good run.”
Trained next door is the sole domestic challenger, the UK’s highest rated mare Ekleel Athbah, who is seeking to add to her two Group 2PA wins. Trained by Phil Collington for her breeders Athbah Stud, she was sixth in Saudi’s Al Mneefah Cup in February, and confirmed the pace of her 2022 Newbury six furlong track record when winning over the same trip in the IFAHR Trophy this month.
Collington said, “We’re looking forward to running at Goodwood. It’s a very strong field this year, the best from France and Qatar. Obviously we know a bit about AJS Saaeq from the Chester race, I think he’ll be better back up to a mile. We’re very pleased with Ekleel though, she came out of the Chester race well. I think the demands of a track at Goodwood might just bring out a little bit more from her, as tracks like Newbury and Doncaster, they’re too ordinary for her and Sam [Hitchcott] will take the ride again.”
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. 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: “ARO is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of UK Arabian racing by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club. Ever since the inaugural running of the race at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in 2015, the Qatar International Stakes has always attracted the worlds’ top Arabians, as you would expect with the very generous prize money on offer, and this year looks no different. Year on year is it an absolute privilege to see horses of this quality compete in the race, showcasing our sport to a wider audience and we look forward to the race at 1.15pm on Wednesday.”