The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) looks forward to the Sohar Fort (0-80) Handicap Stakes to be run at Doncaster on Saturday 16th July over ten furlongs. The race looks set to be a battle of youth versus experience, with two young colts taking on some well-seasoned handicappers at the historic Town Moor course.
At the top of the weights are the unexposed young colts, the three-year-old Kafou Athbah, making his handicap debut, and his stablemate, the unbeaten four-year-old Rebal Athbah, who is seeking a hat-trick. Both are trained by Phil Collington for owner-breeders Athbah Racing, their joint success this season has led to them currently heading their respective ARO leaderboards for owners and trainers. Kafou Athbah will be partnered by Joey Haynes, fresh from a recent win under ARO rules at Chepstow, whilst aboard Rebal Athbah will be John Fahy, whose first win on an Arabian came in the Athbah silks back in 2016.
Speaking of the colts’ chances, the Newmarket based Collington said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing them run at Doncaster. I think we saw with Kafou from his Windsor run that he does really like the quicker ground, on turf he seems much happier. He did what he had to do at Wolverhampton and obviously he’s a winner now, but it will be great to see him back on turf. Rebal’s win at Windsor in May over a mile suggested he would benefit from a step up in trip, so we’ll see how they perform on Saturday and make a plan after that, as there are lots of options for them.”
Hoping to take advantage of their lack of experience will be fellow Newmarket handler and last season’s leading trainer James Owen. Al Mahbooba represents his popular Racing Club and he’ll be hoping she can give its members a great day out. She’ll have Keiran O’Neill on board, who rode his first Arabian winner for Owen last year and was placed on Jaahez over shorter at this track earlier in the season. However, on Saturday Jaahez renews his partnership with young amateur Rhea Betts who rode the eight-year-old into third place on her first ever ride two weeks ago. Both the gelding’s wins at this distance have been for lady jockeys, his first for another of Owen’s amateurs in 2019, and then for a stranger in a valuable ladies international race in Holland.
Owen will also be hoping that Sattam can be revitalised by a return visit to Doncaster, as on his first outing there in 2020, he was fourth in the UAE President Cup-UK Arabian Derby. Ridden by Rhiain Ingram and running in the colours of Mohammed Sultan Alajmi, a new owner to UK Arabian racing, the gelding will join his large stable of thoroughbreds and Arabians in Kuwait at the end of the UK season.
The race is named after Sohar Fort, considered to be one of Oman’s most important forts in the north Batinah governate. Built in the 13th century, it still has the original 10km tunnel that served as an escape route in the event of a siege, as well as the more recent addition of a museum. This was opened in 1993 on the 23rd anniversary of Oman’s National Day to highlight Sohar’s important role in Islamic history as well as the copper trade and the contribution made by the Omani people in the field of navigation.
Genny Haynes, ARO CEO commented: “This looks to be a competitive race, where any chinks in the armour of the young improvers could be exposed by the older more experienced horses. We look forward to warmly welcoming Colonel Staff Saif Al Saeghi, Assistant Director General of the Royal Cavalry of Oman for Administrative and Financial Affairs, who will present the trophies to the winning connections.”
She concluded: “ARO thanks the Royal Cavalry of Oman, Doncaster racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for their continued support of our racing and Baker McVeigh International for sponsoring the Best Turned Out Award.”