Chelmsford City Review

After the challenges of a hard winter and wet spring, combined with an earlier than usual start to the season, it was no great surprise that the declarations for the opening meeting of the Arabian Racing Organisation were down. Nonetheless good weather and an enthusiastic crowd of around 1,800 racegoers at the Essex track ensured that there was a great atmosphere to cheer the winners home on Saturday. Last years’ ARO champion trainer, James Owen, started the new season as he finished the last with a four-timer, whilst all three 2017 jockey champions, David Turner, Joanna Mason and Ellie Mackenzie (novice) rode winners too. ARO patron and champion owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had three homebreds in the winners’ circle, whilst small-owner breeders Jenny and Herbie Owen could have a contender for the Heritage Arabian Racing Club UK Championship.

The two maidens were won in taking fashion by Rafeef for James Owen and Makhaater for Phil Collington. Both horses are by Shadwell's No Risk Al Maury who is firmly establishing himself as a promising young sire, having got his first Group 1 winner over the winter in Barnamaj.

Watch Rafeef (No Risk Al Maury x Maiziane) and Jo Mason win the ARO is the sole Arabian Racing Authority in the UK Newcomers Maiden Stakes 7f

Two-time lady jockeys champion Jo Mason, has ridden Rafeef on both her starts said: “She ran nicely at Windsor and is very straightforward at home, so I was pleased with her win today. It’s great to get back riding in races again and to have a winner at the first meeting, Ellie [Mackenzie] and Antonia [Peck] have both won too, so it will be harder to keep the title. However it’s a long season ahead, and James has been really good to me, so we’ll see how we are later on.” 

Reflecting on the day Owen commented: “I’m really pleased with Rafeef. She was a bit green, I’m not sure whether she really likes an All Weather surface. For me I think she was better on her debut at Windsor, but she’s learnt a lot today. She probably needs to step up in trip, she’s still raw, but a nice filly, she’ll get there.”

Watch Makhaater (No Risk Al Maury x Magie De Faust) and Will Pettis win £20 Free Bet At Open Maiden Stakes 1m

Owner-breeder HH Sheikh Hamdan’s third winner was the likeable Emiraaty, who was given a well-judged front-running ride by Antonia Peck, to win from His Highness’s other runner Alazeez. Despite receiving weight from the second, it was still a good performance and a great advert for his sire Al Saoudi who stands at Shadwell Arabians in Norfolk for 2018. 

Continuing Owen said: “Delighted for Emiraarty, obviously there were only two runners, but I was pleased with them both. They didn’t have a hard time and they’ve both got entries for the DIAR races in Italy next week. We’ll see how they come out of it and look at the race. There are not a lot of opportunities for the high handicappers-Listed horses in England, so we’re going to have to travel with them. They’ll go if we can be competitive.”

Watch Emiraaty(Al Saoudi x Horkidee) and Antonia Peck win the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival at CCR 19th August Open Handicap Stakes 1m
He also trains Insignia, winner of the 0-40 mile handicap, for his parents, who bred the gelding and is one of a handful of progeny by their stallion Istfahan. Owen smiles recalling: “I told my parents to retire Insignia at the end of last year, but they their love racing, so he came back in after his winter break. While he’s still at the lower end of the handicap he might as well keep going, he’s also eligible for HARC races - there’s one coming up at Taunton and he’s won well today.”

Watch Insignia (Istfahan x Waterlilly) and Simon Walker win the (0-40) Handicap Stakes 1m
Insignia was ridden by Simon Walker, who also rode Owen’s forth winner, Delishess in the 0-65 handicap over seven furlongs. A former Grade 2 winner when in her native USA, the daughter of Dahess clearly found life tough with her penalty and never really fulfilled her potential.

Owen continued: “Obviously Delishess was very high in the handicap when she was in England before and has struggled in her races in the UAE too. I think she’s enjoyed being back in the UK, I’ve been turning her out in the paddocks and keeping her routine varied, she’s a nice filly, easy to work with. I’m not sure how strong the race was, my other runner Pacific Syrah probably will be retired, but hopefully the handicapper won’t be too hard on her. She’ll have another run or two, though really her aim is to be put in foal, she was bought to be a broodmare as she has a lovely pedigree, being bred by Cre Run Farm.”

Watch Delishess (Dahess x Polish Rye) and Simon Walker win the Join ARO at Chelmsford on 24th June (0-65) Handicap Stakes 7f
The meeting featured three races sponsored by, which included the maiden won by Makhaater, plus two handicaps, which despite the small fields produced very close finishes. The 0-85 was run over a mile and saw course and distance winner, Zayin Angkor Centurion, score under David Turner from Eqleem and Madany. Trained by Pete Hammersley for owner-breeder and ARO Director Paul Simmons, the five-year-old son of Dahess has clearly wintered well and put some of his quirks behind him, staying on in gritty fashion at the finish to win by a length and a quarter. 

Hammersley was really pleased with the colts’ performance saying: “He’s been showing plenty at home and has matured, his behaviour was so much better today. He wasn’t a hundred per cent fit, so I think his class won him the race, but I was pleased with the way he knuckled down. A mile is his trip, so we’ll head to Windsor for the ARO Cup now.”

Watch Zayin Angkor Centurion (Dahess x Barryh) and David Turner win the Totepool Cashback Club at (0-85) Handicap Stakes 1m
The 0-65 handicap was run over a mile and a quarter and was won by HH Sheikha Maryam bint Maktoum Al Maktoum’s Johara Bint Shuwaiman by a length from Ultimate Force, with Kayclaire a further head behind. This was a first win as a trainer for Dorset based Nikki Malcolm who said: “I work with my partner Nathan Sweeney, running a small business called Stride Ahead, training endurance horses for Australia as well as a few UK owners. Johara is currently the only racehorse we have in training so it’s nice to bring her out and be seen with a winner.”

The mare was ridden by 2017 champion novice Ellie Mackenzie, who praised the couple saying: “Nikki and Nathan have worked so hard with her and have really performed miracles to get her in the correct mental state to race and win, and as has Jenny Lees who bred her. She’s always been a bit highly strung and tricky, so it’s even more rewarding to have success with her, we’ve always known she’s a really tough mare, but she really dug deep to get from last to first. I’d also like to thank my sponsor Racing Welfare who continue to show me incredible support.”

Watch Johara Bint Shuwaiman (Shuwaiman Al Bahrain x Princess Proudd) and Ellie Mackenzie win the Bet in Play at (0-60) Handicap Stakes 1m2f
The meeting was run with full integrity services which meant that it could be televised, ensuring the reach would be far wider than has been the case for a domestic full card outside of the Dubai International Arabian Races fixture.

The next meeting will be at Taunton on May 13, entries open for the eight-race card on May 2, with declarations on May 10. The fixture includes a mile and a quarter restricted maiden sponsored by Forta Stud and the first of the UK HARC races, which will be a good test of stamina over a mile and five furlongs.

The Spring edition of The Arabian Racehorse has just been published

*ARO Stable tours, James Owen, Phil Collington and Pete Hammersley discuss their teams for the ARO 2018 racing season

*Gulf Group 1 reviews

*The Big Interview with UAE Champion Trainer Doug Watson

*Feeding with ulcers in mind, first of a new series on feeding by Jane Buchan of Baileys Horsefeeds

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magazine features photographs from 2017 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (International) Best Photographer Award winner & Arabian Racing Organisation Official Photographer
Debbie Burt

ZAYIN ANGKOR CENTURION (2013 Dahess x Barrhy) goes to post at Chelmsford City racecourse under David Turner, trained by Peter Hammersley for Zayin Arabian Stud