Jim Crowley (on Battaash here) is scheduled to ride Marcus Tregoning-trained Alkumait on Saturday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: As British racing continues behind closed doors, Newbury racecourse is preparing for its Autumn highlight, the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend, a two-day fixture beginning on Friday, September 18.

British Racing’s current leading owner, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who is enjoying a stellar season, is pinning his hopes on the Marcus Tregoning-trained Alkumait in the feature race of the meeting, Saturday’s Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes for which 12 entries have been received.

Scheduled to be partnered by retained jockey Jim Crowley, who recorded his 2,000th career victory at Goodwood last month, the colt is bidding to build on his success in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Goodwood at the end of July having finished fourth at Newbury in a six furlongs novice event on his debut earlier that month.

Despite supporting nine races at the meeting, Dubai Duty Free officials will be absent from Newbury for the first time in their 25-year association with the course.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of the leading airport retailer said: “Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions have forced our first absence from the racecourse in 25 years but we look forward to returning when it is once again safe for us to do so and send our best wishes to the team at Newbury and all those taking part in the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend.”

Newbury Racecourse Chief Executive, Julian Thick, added: “Our sincerest thanks to Dubai Duty Free for their ongoing support of Newbury Racecourse. In a 25-year association with Newbury and not once missing this meeting, they will be much missed by us and many others across the industry who have got to know them all so well. We look forward to welcoming them back again very soon.”