Cardsharp and U S Navy Flag among 17 going forward for Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes
Cardsharp and U S Navy Flag could renew their rivalry in the £75,000 Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (2.50pm, 17 confirmations) at Newbury on the second day of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend, Saturday, September 23.
The six-furlong contest boasts an excellent recent roll of honour, with the last two winners Ribchester (2015) and Harry Angel (2016) gaining five Group One prizes between them this year.
Harry Angel storms to victory in the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes
Cardsharp (Mark Johnston) and U S Navy Flag (Aidan O’Brien) clashed in the G2 July Stakes at Newmarket in July, with Cardsharp coming out on top by a length and three-quarters.
Cardsharp has since finished third under a penalty in both the G2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and G2 Gimcrack Stakes at York, while U S Navy Flag posted a career-best last time out when taking the G3 Round Tower Stakes by six lengths at the Curragh on August 27.
U S Navy Flag’s trainer Aidan O’Brien, who is yet to win the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, has also left in G1 Phoenix Stakes seventh Declarationofpeace.
Invincible Army (James Tate) was fourth in the G2 July Stakes and subsequently finished one place ahead of Cardsharp at York. The son of Invincible Spirit provided his trainer with a first Group race success in the G3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park on September 9.
Other notable names going forward include G3 Acomb Stakes runner-up James Garfield (George Scott) and Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Enjazaat (Owen Burrows), a clear cut winner of the Listed Ripon Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy on August 28.
One of the least experienced among the confirmations is the Tom Dascombe-trained No I’m Easy. He was second to subsequent Listed scorer Mythical Magic on his debut at Ascot in July before going one better on his next start in a six-furlong novice contest at Thirsk on August 21.
Dascombe said today: “The plan at the moment is to run No I’m Easy at Newbury on Saturday.
“He is in good shape and, although he obviously needs to improve a lot, I think there is a lot of improvement in him.
“I thought he ran a nice race at Ascot and the horse who beat him has obviously gone on to better things, while he did well to win last time given the race did not really pan out in his favour.
“He is a nice horse with a future and I would not be running him if I thought he was going to finish out the back.”
Day two of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend also features the £60,000 G3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (2.15pm) over 11 furlongs, which has 15 entries including My Dream Boat (Clive Cox), who captured the G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.
Recent Windsor G3 scorer Fabricate (Michael Bell) and Architecture (Hugo Palmer), runner-up in the English and Irish Oaks in 2016, also hold entries along with the Saeed bin Suroor-trained pair of Secret Number and Promising Run, who have both scored at G2 level this year.
This season’s G1 King’s Stand Stakes fourth Muthmir (William Haggas) and G2 Flying Five Stakes second Alphabet (Aidan O’Brien) headline 24 entries for the £60,000 G3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy (4.00pm) over five furlongs.
A total of 31 confirmations for the 10-furlong £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (3.25pm) includes York handicap winner Fidaawy (Sir Michael Stoute).
The Dubai Duty Free International Weekend starts with a seven-race card on Friday, September 22, when the highlight is the Listed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Cup over seven furlongs.