28 August 2017, UK ~ James Owen further secured his place at the top of the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) Trainers Championship with three winners at the annual Sultanate of Oman race day at Royal Windsor on 28 August 2017.
With wins for Munbaher and Awzaan, he also boosted leading ARO lady amateur Joanna Mason, who rode both horses, to an increase in her lead over Ladies Championship rival, Ellie Mackenzie. In addition, Al Faaris, winner of the opener, formed the first leg of a cross-card double for multiple champion amateur Simon Walker, who rushed from the winners’ circle at Windsor to fill the same spot at Epsom, where he won the Gentleman Amateur’s Derby, riding under rules on C’est No Mour, just two and a half hours later.
Clearly thrilled with his team’s performance Owen said: “It’s been a great day. It’s great for Al Faaris to get his head in front at last, as he’s been running well in the premier handicaps, and I thought Rafeef, the three-year-old who was second, ran a lovely race too. She’s one for the future and we’ll probably put her away now.
“Munbaher, winner of the 0-80 handicap, was able to take advantage of his lower mark on the grass, as I think he’ll struggle off his higher rating on the All Weather now. He’s a trier and we love him.”
Also debuting in that race for Owen were Minty Bloss and Conor Brace, both highly successful graduates from the Pony Racing sphere, of them he said: “They got on well. It’s very different for them and they can only improve from here, so I’m really pleased for them both.”
Of Awzaan, winner of the Royal Cavalry of Oman Conditions race, Owen said: “I’m delighted with Awzaan, I didn’t realise there wasn’t going to be any pace in the race, so well done to Antonia Peck for taking the initiative with Emiraaty, as the original plan had been to drop him in as well. She went on, when nobody else did, so Emiraaty’s run well too. It’s great to get another win for Awzaan, it will give him a bit of confidence, he’s just been caught between two stools this season and the ground hasn’t been right for him in the bigger races either. He’s a nice horse and hopefully we can find another race for him this year, it may mean we have to travel to find something.”
Joanna Mason was delighted with her double saying: “It’s been a really good day. Obviously, it’s been an honour to ride a Group 1 placed horse like Awzaan. He did it nicely. With Munbaher, that trip is really too short for him and we were a bit outpaced all the way, but he just picked them off, one by one. It’s great for him to show some form on the grass now. He loves it in front, but I couldn’t do that here. Knowing he stays, I just had to let him bowl along, but he’s very uncomplicated.”
There was also a first time win for trainer Jayme Plumb with Elyassaat in the Visit Oman 0-55 Handicap. Of that win Plumb said: “He’s been a tricky horse, we were hopeful today though. We tried lots of different things with him and James [Harding] is so calm with him. He lets him think he’s in charge, if you treat him like a prince he’ll work for you. The owners, Blue Star Racing are a syndicate of about fifteen people, they’re all new to the sport. They all get a chance to go racing and we’re hoping to get another syndicate horse next year.”
The Sultanate of Oman 0-70 handicap was also a pleasing first win for Forta Stud’s Shammat Al Hosn, trained by Peter Hammersley and ridden by current leading ARO jockey David Turner. Hammersley said: “She made hard work of it, but it’s the furthest she’s ever raced and she was out in front for a long time, but she’s stuck on. She’s in the UK Arabian Derby, so I expect she will take her chances there. She’s still quite green and she’s going to be a very nice mare in time.”
B-Wing was another to break his maiden, winning the Sultanate of Oman 0-40 Handicap. Bred, trained and part-owned by Adam Newey, he was also a first winner for his sire, Benamer.
The concluding race was the Heritage Arabian Racing Club Handicap Conditions which went to Top Trip trained by Tina Pfeiffer and ridden by her husband Robin. Owner-breeder, Jenny Peyton commented: “He likes Windsor, we’ve won here on good to firm before and also been second on soft. We’ve not had so many chances to come racing this year, but this win was wonderful.”
ARO Racing Operations Executive Gemma Cobb commented: “We are delighted for the Royal Cavalry of Oman, as this raceday is their seasons’ highlight, and the crowd of over 2000 made the most of the opportunity to sample the culture of the Sultanate of Oman in their traditional hospitality tent and to have their hands decorated by the henna artists.
“This has always been a well-supported fixture at Windsor, and it concludes the Royal Cavalry of Oman’s very generous sponsorship for 2017. We thank Windsor and the racecourse teams at Taunton, Doncaster, Bath and Newbury for their support of the Royal Cavalry’s race sponsorship this season.”
Photos: Debbie Burt