Smart eyes Mill Reef glory with King Robert
Newbury stages a fantastic seven-race card on Dubai Duty Free International Saturday, September 19, featuring three Group races and a valuable handicap, with a concert from iconic UK band Madness after racing.
The highlight is the £75,000 Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (2.15pm) over six furlongs, for which there are 16 two-year-olds going forward.
Mark Johnston has five in contention including Group Two Coventry Stakes victor Buratino, recent Listed scorer Whitman and Lumiere, who was runner-up in the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York on August 20.
Gutaifan could turn out quickly for champion trainer Richard Hannon after a tenacious victory in the five-furlong Group Two Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster last week. Hannon has also left in Log Out Island, who was a close third in the same race.
The only unbeaten horse among the confirmations is the Bryan Smart-trained King Robert. The son of Royal Applause captured a five-furlong maiden at Carlisle in June and came from an unpromising position when taking a six-furlong conditions race by a length and a quarter at Chester August 2.
Smart said: “King Robert will take his chance in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, unless the ground comes up bottomless. He has been very well since his win at Chester and goes to Newbury in good form.
“He didn’t handle the track at all at Chester. A lot of people have marked that race down because of what happened to Mark Johnston’s horse. They also said the second horse was badly hampered, but King Robert was as well and yet he still came through to win cosily.
“He works really well at home and I have been impressed with how much he has improved since his last run. He handles soft ground, as he proved at Carlisle, but I wouldn’t want it too soft.”
Other notable acceptors include Group Two Gimcrack Stakes runner-up Ribchester (Richard Fahey) and the William Haggas-trained pair of Tasleet and Raucous.
Eagle Top heads 17 entries for the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup over a mile and three furlongs. The John Gosden-trained colt was last seen out when losing out to Postponed in a photo-finish to the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.
Potential rivals include Intilaaq (Roger Varian), a five-length winner of the Group Three Rose Of Lancaster Stakes last time out, The Corsican (David Simcock) and Godolphin’s Sky Hunter (Saeed bin Suroor).
Group One King’s Stand Stakes hero Goldream (Robert Cowell) could drop back in class for the £60,000 Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy (3.25pm, 26 entries). He may clash with July Cup third Eastern Impact (Richard Fahey), recent Listed scorer Cotai Glory (Charlie Hills) and Irish raider Maarek (Evanna McCutcheon), who took the spoils in 2013.
Marshgate Lane (Neil Mulholland) tops 32 confirmations for the £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.50pm) over 10 furlongs. Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani has won three of last 10 renewals, including with subsequent Group One scorer Presvis in 2008, and has left in last time out winner Laurence.
Madness take to the Party in the Paddock Stage at approx. 5pm following the last race. The music legends performed in front of huge crowd at Newbury in 2009 and are currently nearing the end of their 2015 ‘Grandslam Madness’ UK tour.
Newbury’s Dubai Duty Free International Meeting starts on Friday, September 18, when the £37,000 Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup (4.25pm, 26 entries) takes centre stage.
Among the 26 entries for the seven-furlong contest are the Godolphin-owned pair of Safety Check (Charlie Appleby) and Lightning Moon (Ed Walker), who both contested Saturday’s Group Two Park Stakes at Doncaster.
Other notables engaged include the highly-regarded Hathal (William Haggas), Group Three Jury Stakes runner-up Ascription (Hugo Palmer) and lightly-raced three-year-old Western Reserve (Lady Cecil).
The £16,000 Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes (3.55pm, 16 entries) boasts an illustrious roll of honour, featuring the great Shergar, Rainbow Quest, King’s Theatre and Nayef.
There are two unbeaten colts among the entries in the shape of William Haggas’ Special Season, who created a big impression when taking a Sandown maiden by seven lengths on August 21, and fellow Sandown victor Chief Whip (Richard Hannon), a half-brother to Group One winner Chachamaidee.
Nayef’s trainer Marcus Tregoning could bid for a sixth victory in the mile contest with the unraced Tukhoom, while last year’s winning trainer John Gosden has engaged Group Three Acomb Stakes third Cymric.