Fascinating Classic trials at Newbury on Saturday
European Champion Two-Year-Old Belardo heads a top-class field for the £60,000 Group Three AON Greenham Stakes (2.50pm) at Newbury on day two of the Dubai Duty Spring Trials Meeting, Saturday, April 18.
The seven-furlong contest is a leading trial for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and last year’s renewal saw Kingman beat Night Of Thunder impressively. The pair reopposed in the Newmarket Classic, with Night Of Thunder coming out on top by half a length.
Belardo(Roger Varian/James Doyle) will carry the famous Godolphin silks for the first time and is set to face eight rivals. They are headed by the Richard Hannon-trained pair of Ivawood (Richard Hughes) and Estidhkaar (Paul Hanagan), who were both dual Group Two victors last season.
As well as Estidhkaar, owner Hamdan Al Maktoum is represented by the unbeaten Fannaan (John Gosden/Dane O’Neill) and Group Two Gimcrack Stakes scorer Muhaarar (Charlie Hills/Frankie Dettori).
Toocoolforschool (Karl Burke/Silvestre de Sousa, pictured right) brings good course form to the table, having taken the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes by seven lengths in September, while Dick Whittington (Aidan O’Brien IRE/Ryan Moore) is having his first start since annexing the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August.
Completing the line-up is impressive York maiden winner Flaming Spear (Kevin Ryan/Andrea Atzeni) and Doncaster Listed race scorer Code Red (William Muir/Martin Dwyer).
The fillies’ equivalent of the AON Greenham Stakes is the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes (2.15pm, 13 runners), also over seven furlongs.
Trainer Ralph Beckett is bidding for a third victory in six years and fourth in all with Redstart (Pat Dobbs), who was last seen out when taking a seven-furlong maiden at Kempton Park in November.
Beckett, who took the spoils with Moonstone Magic (2012), Puff (2010) and Penkenna Princess (2005), said: “Redstart is training well and looks well.
“She is a very different type to our previous winners. Puff was a tough, precocious two-year-old and Moonstone Magic came in on the back of a debut win eight days earlier. Penkenna Princess was also a good two-year-old.
“Redstart had two runs last year and then we put her away. It is a big step up and will tell us where we are with her, but she has shown up well in her work and we think it is worth a shot.”
Redstart’s 12 opponents are headed by joint Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Tiggy Wiggy (Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes), successful on six of her eight starts last term culminating with a comfortable success in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes in September, and highly-regarded maiden scorer Jellicle Ball (John Gosden/Ryan Moore).
Russian Punch (James Given/Graham Lee) landed a Listed prize over the course and distance in October, while Royal Razalma (Jonathan Portman/Richard Kingscote) ended the campaign with victory in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes over five furlongs at Newmarket.
The older horses take centre stage in the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (1.45pm, eight runners) over 12 furlongs.
Romsdal (John Gosden/James Doyle) ended last season with a second to Kingston Hill in the St Leger and made a winning return to action in the 10-furlong Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park on March 28.
Champion trainer Richard Hannon is doubly represented through Pether’s Moon (Pat Dobbs), who shoulders a 5lb penalty for a Group Two triumph in Turkey in September, and St Leger fourth Windshear (Richard Hughes).
Arab Spring (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore) impressed in winning the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot last season and is having his first outing since disappointing in the Group Two Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting.
Newbury’s eight-race programme also features competitive handicap action courtesy of the £50,000 Be Wiser Spring Cup (3.25pm, 23 runners) over the straight mile. Racing starts at 1.15pm and concludes at 5.10pm.
The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting gets underway tomorrow, April 17, with another eight-race card. Elm Park and Room Key, trained by Andrew Balding and Eve Johnson-Houghton respectively, will both work after racing as they continue their preparation for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 2.