Steve Blackwell’s Aloof made it two out of two in the Wathba Stallions Cup (0-55) Handicap Stakes, run over a mile at Chepstow on Thursday, August 18th. Remaining unbeaten for the season, the five-year-old mare was partnered on this occasion by Josh Bryan. One of the slowest out the stalls Bryan steadily brought her into contention, weaving through the field to win by a head from Heritage Valentino and Hollie Doyle. Blackwell’s other runner, the veteran Aljawaaher and Mr Lewis Saunders, were a further two and half lengths back in third.
Blackwell, who also bred the mare as well as training her, commented: “She [Aloof] is what she is, you’d have given her no chance early on, but she’s improving. She can gallop, and she gallops like that at home, but on the track she’s been less impressive. The penny’s dropping with her slowly, she’s very like her dam was early on, not straightforward at all.”
Bryan who was riding his first Arabian winner was all smiles saying: “She’s the only Arabian I’ve ever ridden. It was an education for me last year on her at Lingfield. These turf tracks with a stiffer finish probably suit her better than the All Weather tracks do. Steve told me to nurse her into it and hopefully she’ll pick up. I wasn’t sure, as we were on the verge of getting detached at one point, but she passed one and then she started to enjoy it, she weaved through, spotted her stablemate and passed him and then Hollie to win.”
Concluding he said: “I used to ride pony racing with Steve’s son George, so I’ve known the family for years and it’s lovely to ride a winner for them.”
The £4,000 race at the popular Welsh venue, was run as part of the Wathba Stallions race series which supports the grassroots of the sport. With more than half the field represented by home-bred horses, it is exactly the type of contest the series aims to support.
Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival, said: “The Sheikh Mansoor Festival is pleased to return to Chepstow, and we congratulate Aloof and her team on winning a second Wathba Stallions Cup this season.”
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer commented: “ARO is delighted for Josh and Steve and for Aloof who he bred using an ARO breeders prize won by her dam in 2014. We thank the Sheikh Mansoor Festival for their support this season, particularly of races at this level which are the lifeblood of our grassroots sport.
“We also congratulate Sue Wileman and Al-Hatab on winning the Best Turned Out Award sponsored by Baker McVeigh International. Our thanks also go Chepstow racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority for supporting our racing this season.”