The Dubai Duty Free International Weekend got under way at Newbury Racecourse on Friday, with Godolphin dominating the featured Dubai Duty Free Cup.
Godolphin’s three runners in the seven furlongs Listed contest filled the first three places with Silent Escape trained by Saeed bin Suroor taking the top slot, ahead the Charlie Appleby-trained stablemates D’bai and Al Suhail in a 15-strong field.
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Silent Escape could be heading to Dubai next according to trainer Bin Suroor, who thinks she will be suited by conditions there and said: “Fast ground caused her only defeat in five races.”
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy extended his lead in the 2021 table with this victory over regular Godolphin riders James Doyle on the second home D’bai and William Buick on Al Suhail in third. The victory also strengthened Godolphin’s position as leading owner at Newbury this season.
Richard Hannon, leading trainer at the track, landed the Dubai Duty Free Full of Surprises Fillies’ Stakes for two-year-olds over seven furlongs with Heredia.
Hannon was mildly surprised that Heredia touched off the strong favourite in a thrilling three-way photo.
“I haven’t got her entered in any of the fancy races but now we’ve got the money we can supplement her if we wish to,” he said.
Less than three weeks ago Heredia won on her debut at a big price at Windsor and is obviously a surprise package.
The season’s jockeys’ title is developing into a duel between the reigning champion Oisin Murphy and Godolphin’s retained rider William Buick. And it was Murphy who struck again in the Dubai Duty Free Nursery for two-year-olds over seven furlongs, on the Ed Walker-trained American Star.
“He was bought to win the Gimcrack and he ran in it — but not very well. That was six furlongs and what he needs is this seven,” said Walker.
James Doyle gained compensation in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap for three-year-olds and above over a mile-and-a-half with Makram.
Makram may be off to the Gulf too. “He’s in the Sales,” said trainer Roger Charlton and would be ideal for that area of the world. He’s hardly ever been out of the first three for his current Kuwaiti owners. This is their first horse with me. Hopefully there will be more.”
Ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions again prevented the Dubai Duty Free senior management team from attending the two-day fixture which concluded on Saturday, with an eight-race programme featuring the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.