The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) were delighted that all eleven entries have declared for the Wathba Stallions Cup (0-55) Handicap Stakes, to be run over a mile on Thursday 18th August at Chepstow. The £4,000 race at the popular Welsh venue, is run as part of the Wathba Stallions race series which supports the grassroots of the sport. With more than half the field represented by home-bred horses, it is exactly the type of contest the series aims to support.

Making her handicap debut at the top of the weights is the five-year-old Zikada Zayin. She bids to follow in the hoofprints of her brother Zayin Zyperion who won over course and distance for Paul Simmons’ Zayin Arabian Stud last month. Trained by Mitchell Hunt who also handles Simmons’ thoroughbreds, she is looking to give him his first Arabian winner since taking out his thoroughbred licence, Hunt is no stranger to the breed having been assistant to five-time ARO leading trainer James Owen.

Owen himself has three-runners, all of which are home-breds. The brothers Heritage Vadel and Heritage Valentino finished first and third on their latest outing at Southwell and whilst Heritage Vadel retains the winning partnership with Rhiain Ingram, Heritage Valentino has Hollie Doyle in the saddle. Doyle won the ARO leading jockey title last year and will be looking to build on her early season win on another of Owen’s runners. Making up the trio is Conquer, owned and bred by Owen’s parents Herbie and Jenny. Though returning to racing after a long absence this season, he looked much fitter when fifth in better company last time and has the advantage of being a course and distance winner in his younger days.

Also with three runners is Peter Hammerlsey, headed by the home-bred gelding Al-Hatab who he owns in partnership with his breeder Julie Kelway. Al-Hatab is another making his handicap debut and will be partnered again by amateur jockey, Paddy Barlow. Studying to be a vet at Nottingham University, Barlow still finds time to ride out at trainer Peter Hammersley’s and rode for leading Irish trainer Jessica Harrington in the Horseware Student Derby at Ireland’s famous Curragh last year. He’s also been a regular on Dilmun Racing’s Belle Angelique who should be more at home back on turf for Kieran O’Neill, whilst his other runner HH Sheikha Maryam bint Maktoum al Maktoum’s Bin Al Reeh, a winner over this distance last year, will be ridden by young apprentice Frederick Larson.

Alghazaal runs the colours of current leading ARO trainer Phil Collington’s daughter Sophie, who is ARO’s youngest owner and often leads up her own horse. He will be ridden by Lewis Kent who after a short spell as an apprentice, returns to the amateur ranks. Also riding as an amateur is Kaitlen Robinson who is in the saddle on the family’s Mulan. The pair have twice been successful on the All Weather, including at this distance, however this is a higher grade.

Another owner-trainer with runners is Bridgend based Steve Blackwell. He’ll have the least miles to travel and has a pair of likely contenders in the veteran Aljawaaher and his home-bred mare Aloof. Aljawaaher has been extremely consistent for another amateur in Lewis Saunders, placing on every outing this season, whilst Aloof won on her reappearance and reunites with Joshua Bryan who rode her twice last year.

Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer commented: “ARO is delighted that all the entries stood their ground and we thank the Sheikh Mansoor Festival for their support this season, particularly of races at this level which are the lifeblood of our grassroots sport.

“We also thank Chepstow racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for supporting our racing this season and to Baker McVeigh who is sponsoring the Best Turned Out award for this race.”