Dubai: Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Marching Army led a Godolphin 1-2-3 in the £60,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap during the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday.
The meeting’s feature race, the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes capped a remarkable four-timer on the day for in-form jockey David Egan, who had already won the first three races on the day’s card, and a treble for Newmarket trainer Roger Varian. The prestigious event for juveniles celebrated its 50th anniversary running and commemorates one of the great racehorses in history.
Blown away by performance
“Everything clicked,” said trainer Varian in the understatement of the day — it was his sixth winner at meetings around the UK, while Egan said: “He gave me some feel. I was blown away by his performance.”
Winning such races as the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef and the preceding six-furlong £70,000 Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes was bound to excite thoughts of future possibilities.
“We may think about the Prix de l’Abbaye on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day,” said Varian after taking the Group 3 sprint with Mitbaahy, again ridden by Egan.
The Group 3 £70,000 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup went to Stay Alert, the only filly in a strong field. Trained locally by Hughie Morrison, Stay Alert brought top class form into the 11-furlong contest having finished second to the Prix de Diane (Group 1) winner Nashwa at Newbury and earlier having triumphed in Listed class here at the Berkshire track. She again showed a liking for her home course.
Stay Alert was challenged on all sides by older colts and geldings but stayed on determinedly to fend them off.
The dream day for Varian had begun in the seven-furlong novice stakes for two-year-olds with victory for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s Exoplanet.
The feature race of the first day on Friday, was the Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup won in astounding fashion by the Cheveley Park Stud-owned Sacred. She loves Newbury having won the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over the same seven-furlong course and distance last month.
“But she’s a funny old thing,” said trainer’s wife Maureen Haggas, whose father Lester Piggott died earlier this year and who herself is still on the mend from a serious riding accident on Newmarket gallops. “She throws everybody off at home, but she has enormous ability and when she realises she’s dominating her rivals she just likes to rub it in.” Sacred won by over six lengths.