Muhaarar, Redstart and Arab Spring star in hugely informative Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting
Muhaarar, Redstart and Arab Spring look set to be horses to follow over the coming months following impressive victories in the feature races on day two of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting at Newbury on Saturday, April 18.
The Charlie Hills-trained Muhaarar broke the seven-furlong course record with a neck victory over Estidhkaar as the Hamdan Al Maktoum pair fought out the finish to a particularly strong renewal of the £60,000 Group Three AON Greenham Stakes (2.50pm).
Held up in the middle of the field by Frankie Dettori, 16/1 chance Muhaarar produced a strong run to take the lead inside the final furlong and had to be kept up to his work to see off the late challenge of Estidhkaar.
Ivawood, the 13/8 favourite was third, four and a half lengths behind the front two, while last year’s champion juvenile Belardo failed to cope with the good to firm ground and trailed home eighth of the nine runners.
Charlie Hills said: “We always knew that Muhaarar was a good horse – he won a Gimcrack Stakes last year. There was a question mark over whether he would get the trip and, looking at the line-up, it was a very competitive race.
“They went a good, solid pace and he travelled through the race perfectly well. If anything, he might have got to the front a bit too soon but, luckily, he saw the trip out well.
“I think we will have to decide where to go over the next couple of weeks. Frankie said that the French Guineas could suit him well but it’s obviously Sheikh Hamdan’s decision.
“The 2000 Guineas has also got to be well up there on the agenda. It’s a decision that we have to make and we will see how he comes out of the race.”
Frankie Dettori added: “They went a good pace and he settled, which was key for him today.
“I hit the front and he started to look around a bit. I could feel Paul Hanagan coming back at me but the line was there in time. He has a lot of speed and the team will have to decide where to go.”
Richard Hannon, responsible for the second and third, said: “Estidhkaar ran a super race and will go to the 2000 Guineas with every chance – he has got the ideal profile for a Guineas horse. Ivawood is a horse that carries a lot of weight and will improve a lot for the run.”
Ralph Beckett claimed the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes (2.15pm) for a fourth time in 10 years as Kempton Park maiden winner Redstart made virtually all for Pat Dobbs to win by three-quarters of a length from Jellicle Bell.
Andover-based Beckett said: “Redstart didn’t work well last week and I told David Oldrey that we may have to think again but he was keen to run. I think it was a good performance.
“The previous three winners we have had of this race won it every different way. Penkenna Princess held on, Moonstone Magic won fairly easily on soft ground and I think Puff only just held on as well, so it’s difficult to compare them with each other and this filly.
“I had the German Guineas in mind for her but David said that I should put her in the 1000 Guineas, so she will have to run in that now.
“She will get a mile, for sure. Her mother Ecstasy was the third winner that I ever trained and one of the five horses I inherited from Peter Walwyn when he retired. She stayed a mile and a quarter so I would be surprised if Redstart didn’t get a mile well.”
A return to Newmarket may also still be on the cards for last year’s Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Tiggy Wiggy. The 11/10 favourite could only finish third under Richard Hughes on her first appearance over seven furlongs.
Her trainer Richard Hannon reported: “I think Tiggy Wiggy settled well and finished her race off OK. We will still think about the 1000 Guineas – obviously it is disappointing that she didn’t win but it is only a trial and there is a good chance that she might have needed it.
“We will go home, sleep on it and see how she comes out of the race. Hughsie said that he wouldn’t have won today over five, six or seven furlongs, which is interesting. She settled very well, so there were no excuses there, and got home OK.
“On the evidence, it looks like she probably does get the trip. She has run a little lack-lustre and a little below expectations. We will go home and see what the problem is but, if she never wins another race, she has been a pleasure and a delight to have anything to do with.”
Sir Michael Stoute enhanced his superb record in the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (1.45pm) as Arab Spring gave the Newmarket trainer a unparalleled sixth success in the 12-furlong contest.
Sent off an 11/4 chance on his first appearance since July, Arab Spring stayed on strongly under Ryan Moore to prevail by a length over Pether’s Moon, with 13/8 favourite Romsdal back in third.
Stoute commented: “I was delighted with Arab Spring. He hasn’t run since the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes in July and he travelled so well throughout today’s race.
“Today was important but he is a lightly-raced horse. This was only his seventh start, so hopefully we can progress him a little bit more. He can go 10 (furlongs) or 12, so there are lots of options. We will stop and think, get him back, and there are plenty of races for him.”
Elsewhere on an eight-race card, 7/1 chance Ayaar recorded an easy success in the £50,000 Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup (3.25pm). The Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old travelled strongly for Frankie Dettori before forging clear in the final furlong to score by two lengths.
Dettori said: “Ayaar won well. These handicaps are hard to judge but everything went good – I had pace on my side, he came good and won well. He’s very hard to catch right but today was his day.
“He was knocking on the door in the big handicaps last year so it was about time that he got one.”
Dettori completed a 441/1 treble on the card as Mr Singh got up near the line to take the 11-furlong £10,000 Al Basti Equiworld Maiden (4.00pm). The three-year-old’s trainer John Gosden continued his bright start to the campaign with a double at Newbury for a second successive day as Mahsoob maintained his unbeaten record with a cosy neck verdict in the opening 10-furlong £12,000 Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap (1.15pm).
The Newmarket trainer said: “Mahsoob is a horse that took some time to get to the races. He ran once at the very end of the season as a three-year-old so it’s nice to see him do that from a difficult draw (19).
“The draw was tricky, being so wide around the bend, but he didn’t have to run through a big handicap field and could creep around the outside. Paul Hanagan rode him nicely and he is a progressive horse at this stage.”
Hanagan also enjoyed a 90/1 treble on the card with victories in both divisions of the mile £8,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden (4.35pm & 5.10pm) to add to the success of Mahsoob. All three wins were for his employer Hamdan Al Maktoum, who had a great afternoon with four victories.
Investec Derby and Irish 2000 Guineas entry Intilaaq, from the stable of Roger Varian, routed the opposition with an eight-length victory in division one, while the Barry Hills-trained Sahaafy registered a smooth success in the second division.
Newbury’s next fixture is Starlight Charity Raceday on Friday, May 15, with the highlight of Newbury’s Flat season, Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, taking place on Saturday, May 16.