Peslier To Ride Collington’s Ekleel Athbah In Al Mneefah
Monday 13 February 2023
13 February 2023 – The UK’s leading Purebred Arabian trainer Philip Collington is targeting his G2 winner Ekleel Athbah at The Saudi Cup meeting’s $1 million Al Mneefah Cup presented by the Ministry Of Culture on 24 February, with master Arabian rider and six-time French Champion Jockey Olivier Peslier booked to partner the five-year-old.
Collington, last year’s ARO Champion Trainer, said: “We’ve recently confirmed that Olivier [Peslier] will ride her, which is great. Obviously, he’s fantastic on Arabians, but I think his style and generally the way Olivier rides will suit her.”
Collington is no stranger to competing and winning on the big stage, having been placed in the G1 Obaiya Arabian Classic at the inaugural Saudi Cup meeting in 2020, and before that winning one of the most valuable Purebred Arabian prizes, the G1 Jewel Crown in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re very excited to be invited back to The Saudi Cup meeting for our third visit. We were third in the Obaiya Arabian Classic at the very first running of The Saudi Cup in 2020 with Mashhur Al Khalediah. He had previously won the Jewel Crown in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2019.
“The Obaiya is a really tough race. I think we didn’t quite stay that year with Mashhur because 2000m on the dirt was very hard for him.”
Now targeting the Al Mneefah Cup, a race that was promoted from Listed to Group 2 status this season, Collington is optimistic Ekleel Athbah will take to the challenge of the turf course at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, Riyadh.
Ekleel broke the 1200m track record at Newbury last year, but has since stepped up in trip and won twice over the Al Mneefah trip of 2100m.
“Now we’ve got the Al Mneefah, which is a newer race on the turf track, added to The Saudi Cup meeting. I think this filly has every chance of doing well at that distance and on that track.
“It never really struck us that she was just a sprinter. It was more the fact we knew she had more than enough speed to be able to compete in those races, so we took advantage of it.
“We’ve always thought 1600m to 2100m would be her best distance – probably not a lot further than that – but then the best races are over those distances. She can be at her best over this distance, and especially on turf, as we know that the all-weather wouldn’t be her favoured surface.”
The G2 Al Mneefah Cup presented by the Ministry Of Culture will be run on 24 February, the day before the $20 million G1 Saudi Cup.