Dubai: A sensational day’s racing marked the second and concluding day of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend at its Newbury ‘home’ on Saturday.
Familiar faces were involved in a formidable reunion for the opening event on a seven-race card, the £70.000 Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes run over 12 furlongs.
It was packed with stars. Godolphin’s St Leger and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner of two years ago, Hurricane Lane, was meeting Mojo Star, runner-up in the Doncaster Classic and in the Ascot Gold Cup, for a fourth time and the betting said the race was apparently between the pair.
But both have had absences from the track and when battle commenced in the final furlong neither were able to stand their ground. Outsiders featured in the finish led by Grand Alliance. He hadn’t won for a year and in his last race of 2022 at Newbury. Grand Alliance could only finish third to Max Vega. This time it was Max Vega, who filled the same minor placing.
“We hadn’t thought past today about his future,” said trainer Charlie Fellowes. “He’s not the most beautiful horse in the world and he can act like a naughty schoolchild. He can switch on and off and be hard work.”
James Doyle was ready for Grand Alliance’s wayward manoeuvres driving his mount out to a memorable success on the rider’s 35th birthday.
The fillies and colts Classic trials at Newmarket earlier in the week had gone to a new force in British Amo Racing. They would have had high hopes of Magic Sunset in the £70,000 Dubai Duty Free Stakes Group 3 fillies Classic Trial. But Magic Sunset didn’t feature as victory went to Remarquee on her seasonal debut for local trainer Ralph Beckett.
“I trained her mother and grandmother so we know the family,” said Beckett — a family packed with top class winners. “She’ll know a lot more after today,” added the trainer.
The £90,000 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Group 3 Greenham Stakes over the same seven-furlong trip as that for the fillies, looked ready made for unbeaten favourite Chaldean. But disaster struck at the start when jockey Frankie Dettori was dropped almost immediately the gates opened.
The race was left wide open though those with memories of the winner Isaac Shelby’s debut victory at Newbury last year in similar soft ground would have profited.
Isaac Shelby wore the famous green and blue colours of the late Robert Sangster and the colt is trained at the famous Manton Stables he modernised.
Brian Meehan trains for Manton Thoroughbreds who are under the guidance of Sam Sangster.
“He heads for the French Guineas,” said Meehan, “and he’s right up there with the best I’ve trained.”
Last year’s £12,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Stakes over a mile for maiden three-year-olds went to My Prospero, who went on to Group race success. Trainer Eve Johnson Houghton’s sights were set much lower with Golspie when saddling him for his debut in what is always an informative event.
“Slightly unexpected,” she smiled. “I thought he would get tired because he wasn’t a well horse last year and he’s still weak. I was hoping we’d win second time with him,” she joked. There’ll be more pressure on Eve next time we see Golspie.
The concluding £12,500 Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire handicap over ten furlongs had its usual competitive big field. And it appeared that the succession of big price winners would be sustained as 100-1 Time Interval bowled along in front. In the dying strides though the outsider was caught by the strongly fancied second favourite Mustazeed.
The lightly raced Shadwell-bred five-year-old was having his first run for young Newmarket trainer Harry Eustace.
“Chris Wall trained Mustazeed and when he retired at the end of last year, he was kind enough to recommend the owners, the Newmarket Racing Club, transfer him to me,” said Eustace. “They are a great bunch of people.”
Dubai Duty Free’s long-standing relationship with Newbury Racecourse and British racing is now in its 27th year and welcoming guests in Newbury’s Fred Winter Suite, Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin said, “The lovely relationship we have with Newbury is why we continue the association. “This is our fortieth year in business and it is the friends that we have made, the experience shared, that make it all worthwhile.”