Review by Debbie Burt, photographs thejockey.co.uk
It was fitting that Newbury Racecourse, home of Arabian Racing in the United Kingdom would be the venue for first Group race of the Arabian Racing Organisation’s 2012 season. Nine runners went to post for the Arabian Horse Organization Hawthorn Hill International Stakes for Purebred Arabians, over a mile and a quarter with a guaranteed prize fund of £20,000, with £10,000 to the winner. This was far in excess of the prize money available to the thoroughbred contests which made up the rest of the evening’s card.
Despite its Group 2 billing, the majority of the field were up to Group 1 class and ARO Racing Manager Antonia Newman is hopeful that this race may get elevated to Group 1 status next year. Clerk of the Course Richard Osgood had given the official going as good to soft, good in places after a warm but overcast day. Following much debate Ahmed Abdel Razek, Chairman of the Egyptian Arabian Horse Breeders Association, a huge supporter of Arabian racing and breeding, awarded the Best Turned Out prize to Mu’azzaz, getting the stable off to an auspicious start.
The race promised a fascinating clash between the leading stables of the 2012 season, with Gill Duffield’s position at the top of the Trainer Championship challenged by the Royal Cavalry of Oman’s Salim Al Hakmani who was just one winner behind. Julian Smart’s UK campaign had only just started the week before at Fakenham, although he did saddle two runners at the Curragh at the end of May, both of which somewhat below par on that occasion behind the season’s most impressive winner to date, the Dennis Batteate trained Tidarbret.
It was Tidarbret once again, under leading jockey Kieren Fallon, who broke well and took an early lead going over to the rail. The Royal Cavalry of Oman’s Vizir Des Cedres was close in behind with Mu’azzaz upsides and the rest of the field tightly bunched as they continued a steady pace into the first bend. Gill Duffield’s Sadiq took third on the outside ahead of Aziz and Vizir Des Cedres, with Whisper briefly showing up well, though she was unable to get competitive and quickly faded to the rear.
Into the home straight the tempo increased with Tidarbret driven clear for a half length lead, Silvestre de Sousa was hard at work on Mu’azzaz, with Aziz poised to challenge. Entering the final quarter of a mile Tidarbret found more under pressure as Mu’azzaz went with him for a thrilling duel to the post, Mu’azzaz eventually coming out on top by a length. Vizir Des Cedres continued his improved run of form running on into third to deny Jaafer by three quarters of a length, having been squeezed on the rail.
Pierre Deymonaz, assistant to winning Trainer Julian Smart, expressed relief following the win, as the stable had been unlucky in another valuable race in the previous fortnight. He admitted that on current form it initially seemed a surprise result, though Mu’azzaz had previously beaten the other two when faced with similar ground conditions in the past. Mu’azzaz, a well bred, good looking son of Champion Sire Amer, is a full brother to Theeba who had made all to win the opening maiden at Fakenham the previous week.