The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomed a field of nine for their second visit to Bath this season for the Wathbastallions.com (0-60) Handicap to be run over a mile. Many of the runners from two weeks ago will reoppose, headed by the winner, Upstart Crow, who will again be ridden by amateur, Teagan Padgett for James Owen and Mrs Linda Reeves. This will be the first of eight races sponsored under the banner of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival banner, which also includes the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup (Gr3PA), which this year has a prize fund increase to £20,000.
Joining Upstart Crow from the Owen stable will be the brothers, Heritage Valentino and Heritage Vadel who were both successful for the yard last season. Heritage Valentino put up a good show to be second on his reappearance and will be partnered by Sean Levey. Heritage Vadel won first-time out last year, in first-time blinkers, and this time is tried in cheekpieces for his seasonal return, where he will be ridden by Cieran Fallon, who is making his debut on the breed. Joining them will also be the Owen homebred, Mayfair, who will be ridden again by another stable amateur in Rhea Betts.
After their last trip to Bath, Owen said, “We’re going to support the amateurs in the yard, Teagan and Rhea, as well as Jamie [Gambin] and Connor [Baker], they’ll ride all the Arabians when they can do the weight this year. That’s why I’ve got them and that’s why they work hard for me, and I’ll reward them for that.”
Third behind Upstart Crow and Heritage Valentino was Zikada Zayin, for 2022 leading ARO breeder, Paul Simmons of Zayin Arabians. Her third place and that of Zayin Angkor Centurion last Saturday at Doncaster, sees Simmons lying in second place in the breeders table behind John Elliott, who could be in line for another ARO breeders scheme payday as the producer of Upstart Crow.
Double-handed in the race will be trainers Steve Blackwell and Peter Hammersley. Blackwell returns with the veteran Aljawaaher, who’s main purpose has been a schoolmaster for young amateur jockeys, though was profitable last season making the frame on every start. His partner, Lewis Saunders, now takes a step up to Blackwell’s homebred mare Aloof, whilst Aljawaaher gains Matthew Lloyd Slater, who is making his debut under ARO rules.
Hammersley’s pair are Belle Angelique, partnered by Gina Mangan for Dilmun Racing and Al-Hatab, ridden by Finley Marsh, who Hammersley co-owns with the gelding’s breeder Julie Kelway. He will be hoping that leaving off the cheekpieces will allow Al-Hatab to settle better in the early stages than he did on his seasonal debut.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “ARO is most grateful for the continued support of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival through their Wathba Stallions Cup races which are specifically aimed at the grassroots our sport, both here, and around the world.
“We also thank Baker McVeigh International for sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award for this race and we’re look forward to returning to Bath on Friday as part of their evening racing programme, with live music after racing.”