Cox aiming for Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes repeat with Grand Koonta
In-form Lambourn trainer Clive Cox is well-represented at Newbury on the second day of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend, Saturday, September 23, with runners in each of the three Group races.
The highlight of the eight-race programme is the £75,000 G2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (2.50pm, 10 runners) over six furlongs for two-year-olds. Cox was successful 12 months ago with Harry Angel, who has since established himself as Europe’s standout sprinter, and the handler relies this year on Grand Koonta (Adam Kirby).
Owned by the China Horse Club, Grand Koonta was a comfortable victor of a six-furlong novice event at Windsor on July 1 and has not raced since finishing eighth in the G2 July Stakes at Newmarket on July 13 due to unsuitable ground.
Cox, who has enjoyed a 42 per cent strike rate over the last two weeks with 11 winners, said today: “Grand Koonta is a very nice colt.
“We have been bit unlucky in that the ground has been a bit too easy for him on a couple of occasions over the last six weeks.
“Saturday’s race is obviously very hotly contested, but Grand Koonta is a horse we like a lot and it looks like the ground is going to be in his favour.”
Grand Koonta’s nine opponents are headed by G2 Gimcrack Stakes runner-up Invincible Army (James Tate/Martin Harley), who was a decisive winner of the G3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park on September 9, and Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Ripon Listed scorer Enjazaat (Owen Burrows/Jim Crowley).
James Garfield (George Scott/Frankie Dettori) and Lansky (Jeremy Noseda/Jamie Spencer) both drop back a furlong having finished second and third respectively in the G3 Acomb Stakes at York, while dual G2 runner-up Nebo (Charlie Hills/Ryan Moore) returns to the scene of his impressive maiden success earlier in the campaign.
Last season’s G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes hero My Dream Boat (Clive Cox/Adam Kirby) steps down in class for £60,000 G3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (2.15pm, 11 runners) over a mile and three furlongs.
The five-year-old has contested G1 contests on his last three start and was last seen out finishing seventh behind Ulysses in the G1 Juddmonte International at York on August 23.
Cox said: “This is step down for My Dream Boat – he has been competing in the highest division for much of this season after winning his G1 at Royal Ascot last year.
“He is in good shape and I am hopeful he can give a very good showing as well.”
G1 Coral-Eclipse third Desert Encounter (David Simcock/Sean Levey) also runs along with recent Windsor G3 scorer Fabricate (Michael Bell/Jim Crowley), one of two runners for Her Majesty The Queen on the day, and Secret Number (Saeed bin Suroor/Gerald Mosse), successful in the G2 Bosphorus Cup in Turkey on his comeback last month.
The Queen’s second runner is Daphne (William Haggas/Ryan Moore) in the 12-furlong Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap (4.35pm).
G1 Nunthorpe Stakes third Cotai Glory (Charlie Hills/Silvestre de Sousa) heads 17 runners for an excellent renewal of the G3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy (4.00pm) over five furlongs.
Hamdan Al Maktoum has two strong contenders in Muthmir (William Haggas/Jim Crowley), a G2 scorer at Chantilly in June, and recent Leicester scorer Waady (John Gosden/Dane O’Neill).
High-class front-runners Take Cover (David Griffiths/Harry Bentley) and Caspian Prince (Tony Coyle/Jimmy Fortune) also take part.
Cox is doubly represented by two fillies in Priceless (Adam Kirby), who shoulders a G2 penalty thanks to her success in the Temple Stakes at Haydock Park in May, and Go On Go On Go On (Hector Crouch), who was third in the Listed Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster last week.
Cox said: “This looks another hotly-contested race. Priceless has a Group Two penalty but the ground is main reason we are pleased to shoulder that penalty as she is a better filly on drier conditions.
“She ran a blinder in the Nunthorpe [fifth] last time and has been at the top of her game all season. She looks fantastic for the time of year.
“Go On Go On Go On ran well at Doncaster last week. This is another step up, but we wanted to take advantage of the drier ground.”