Classic Winning Trainer Hugo Palmer to Train Arabians For Al Asayl Bloodstock

Hugo is the first established thoroughbred trainer to take on Arabians

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) is delighted to welcome the registrations of two horses from leading UAE owner breeder Al Asayl Bloodstock. Both three-year-olds have arrived at Hugo Palmer’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire and are being prepared to run in the UK this season. Marakeb, a colt by leading first and second crop sire Al Mourtajez, is out of a five-time winner for the Late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, founder of Al Asayl, whilst Rich Pulls Pitch is a filly by their two-time Group 1PA winner RB Burn.

Multiple Classic winning trainer Palmer, for whom this is his first experience of training Arabians, said, “We’ve just taken over two horses for Al Asayl which is the Abu Dhabi based racing team of Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan and her father Sheikh Sultan. I think I’m their only trainer to train Flat thoroughbreds, jumping thoroughbreds and Arabians!

“When Sheikha Alyazia asked me, I said I’d love to, but you must realise I’ve never had anything to do with Arabians and she said they’re just like thoroughbreds, treat them like thoroughbreds. So, on her instructions, that’s very much what we’re doing.”

The horses arrived as two-year-olds in early December having been broken and pre-trained in France and Palmer sought the advice of five-time leading Arabian trainer James Owen, who had trained for ARO’s late Patron, HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

He continued, “I rang James, who’s now making a very good fist of being a National Hunt trainer and he very much said treat them as though they’re a year behind. They’re very much like small thoroughbreds really and though they were quite backward when they arrived, in the last couple of weeks Marakeb, the colt, is just beginning to switch on and improve.

“I think there’s got to be potential for the sport to grow [in the UK]. If the money is there and if the races are there, then I’m sure the horses will follow. We would like to have more than two here. My heart will be in my mouth the first time they run, because it’s very hard to know what’s going on until we get them on the track. That’s going to be really fun and I’m looking forward to it.”

Harry Peter-Hoblyn, Al Asayl European Racing Manager commented, “Everyone at Al Asayl is very much looking forward to having Arabians in England with Hugo. We’ve had success in the past on the track here with Arabians, most notably Sir Bani Yas and we hope that can continue. We already have thoroughbreds in England with Hugo and George Boughey and to add Arabians to our English string is an exciting prospect. Hugo seems to be getting to grips with them and his eagerness to take up the challenge is certainly encouraging. There are a number of top class races on the calendar here which is obvious from the number of French raiders we have seen in previous years coming across the channel and I certainly hope we can give them a run for their money.”

Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said, “Since January 2021, licenced BHA trainers have been permitted to train Arabians as well as thoroughbreds. Though we have had our own trainers such as James Owen, or his former assistant, Mitchel Hunt, take out a full BHA licence to train thoroughbreds, Hugo is the first established thoroughbred trainer to take on Arabians, which is extremely positive for our sport.

“As is the backing of a globally successful stable such as Al Asayl, who won the first running of our most valuable race, the £400,000 Qatar International Stakes at Goodwood with Sir Bani Yas in 2015 and the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, at Sandown, also a Group 1PA, the following year. He was trained in France, and we hope that we may now see horses of his quality trained and raced here.

“When Arena Racecourses took us over in March last year, the future of Arabian racing in the UK was secured, and we’ve already been able to increase the number of races programmed for 2024. This opens up many more opportunities for owners and trainers to either compliment their existing interests or to try something completely new by adding Arabians to their string.”
Concluding she said, “ARO always welcomes enquiries from people new to the sport or those wishing to expand their Arabian racing activities in the UK. We’re looking forward to the start of our season which will be at Royal Windsor on Monday 15 April.”

NEXT ARO RACING EVENT: 15th April Royal Windsor
~Ends ARO