Delving Into The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Archives

Ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials, which takes place on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 April, we delve into the archives to take a look at some of the most impressive performances from years gone by.


Alcohol Free

Alcohol Free, trained in Kingsclere by Andrew Balding, made her first career start at Newbury in August 2020 in a Fillies’ Novice Stakes. Sent off at odds of 17/2, she made a promising debut under Oisin Murphy to win by 1¾ lengths.

Having ended her two-year-old campaign with victory in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, she returned to Newbury after a break of 204 days to record a narrow victory in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes for owner Jeff Smith. She held off a challenge from the Martyn Meade-trained Statement to win by a short head after a photo finish.

The daughter of No Nay Never recorded two Group 1 successes as a three-year-old including the Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes.

She returned to Newbury for the 2022 renewal of the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes finishing fourth behind the brilliant Baaeed. Alcohol Free went on to record a final Group 1 success in Britain when winning the July Cup under jockey Rob Hornby by 1½ lengths at odds of 14/1.

She was sold at the 2022 Tattersalls December Mare sale for 5,400,000 gns, the second highest-priced horse ever to be sold at a European auction.

Click below to watch the video of Alcohol Free winning the Fred Darling Stakes in 2022.





Ralph Beckett’s Stars Of The Fred Darling Stakes

Ralph Beckett began his training career in 2000 from Windsor House in Lambourn from which he sent out 105 winners.

Beckett has won 5 of the last 20 renewals of the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes including Redstart in 2015 who holds the record for the fastest winning time. 

The most notable of these winners came in 2005 when Penkenna Princess beat Royal Alchemist by a head to win the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes. Ridden by Seb Sanders, the filly was sent off at odds of 7/2 in her first race of the season. Her win came after having had a break of 182-days.

The second winner came five years later in 2010 when Puff beat the Ed Dunlop trained Habaayib by a neck. 

Beckett only had to wait another two years to take the spoils again, this time with Moonstone Magic in 2012 who was ridden to victory by Jim Crowley. 

The next Beckett-trained winner came in 2015 when Redstart, ridden by Pat Dobbs, recorded the fastest winning time in the Fred Darling Stakes with a time of 1:22:13. Redstart broke her maiden on her second career start at Kempton before returning to the track after 142 days to win the Group 3 at Newbury at odds of 12/1.

The most recent success for the Kimpton Down yard came in 2023 with the Kingman filly, Remarquee. Having broken her maiden on her first start at Salisbury, she beat the Hugo Palmer-trained Stenton Glider by a neck on soft ground at Newbury. Despite having run green, she held on to land victory at odds of 7/2. 

Click on the image below to back at his first winner, Penkenna Princess in 2005, and most recent winner Remarquee in 2023.

Both fillies went on to finish runner up in Group 1 races following their victory in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury.




Sir Michael Stoute’s Stars Of The John Porter Stakes

The Group 3 John Porter Stakes is named after the Kingsclere trainer, John Porter, who founded Newbury Racecourse. The race is run over 1m4f for horses aged four years or older on the Saturday of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting. First run in 1970, Newmarket based trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won the race seven times making him the leading trainer to date.

Sir Michael Stoute first won the race in 1991 with Rock Hopper ridden by the late Pat Eddery. This was also to be the first of five winners Eddery rode in the race, making him the winning-most jockey to date. Following a break of 343 days, Rock Hopper began his four-year-old campaign at Newbury in the John Porter Stakes where he recorded his second Group 3 success. He followed up this victory only weeks later at The Rowley Mile in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes. 

The duo of Sir Michael Stoute and Pat Eddery teamed up again the following year to land back-to-back victories in the John Porter Stakes taking the 1992 renewal with Saddlers’ Hall. The son of Saddler’s Wells only ran once as a two-year-old before becoming a Group 2 winner the following year when landing the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot before finishing runner up in the Group 1 St Leger. Saddlers’ Hall returned to start his four-year-old career at Newbury, putting in a dominant performance to destroy the rest of the field and win by ten lengths from the Clive Brittain-trained Shambo in second. His win at Newbury was the first of four consecutive Group successes in 1992 including the sole Group 1 success of his career in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Whitewater Affair provided Sir Michael Stoute with a third winner in the John Porter Stakes under Olivier Peslier in 1997. The Listed winner as a two-year-old was sent off at odds of 20/1 but managed to just hold on by ½ length to the Mark Tompkins trained Ela-Aristokrati. The filly went on to win the Group 2 Prix de Pomone at Deauville before retiring to be a broodmare after two placed finishes in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and Irish St Leger.

There was a ten-year break before Sir Michael Stoute’s next John Porter Stakes winner which came in 2007 with the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum owned Maraahel. A Group 3 winner as a three and four-year-old and Royal Ascot winner in the 2006 Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, it was his third run in the John Porter Stakes before he landed victory.

Owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, Harbinger won six of his nine career starts including the 2010 renewal of the John Porter Stakes. Ridden by Ryan Moore, Harbinger was very impressive in the John Porter Stakes to finish three lengths clear of 9/2 joint-favourite Manifest. He followed up this victory with success in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes, Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes and Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He retired to stud at the end of his four-year-old career with an official rating of 135. As the highest rated son of Dansili, he has since sired five Group 1 winners and now stands at Shadai Stallion Station in Japan.

Arab Spring held off the Richard Hannon-trained Pether’s Moon to win by a length with 13/8 favourite Romsdal back in third. He only raced once more that season when finishing runner up in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. After 436 days off the track, he recorded one further Group 3 victory in the September Stakes as a six-year-old.

The 2016 renewal of the John Porter Stakes was run over 1m5f at Chelmsford Racecourse due to Newbury Racecourse being waterlogged. The regally bred Dartmouth, the son of Dubawi out of a Galileo mare was owned by the Queen. Dartmouth found his form as a four-year-old when recording three consecutive Group victories including the John Porter Stakes, Ormonde Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes as well as being placed at the highest level in the Group 1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Dartmouth drew clear of his nearest rival Sandro Botticelli to win the John Porter Stakes by four and a half lengths. He recorded further Group 2 success the following year in the Yorkshire Cup before being retired to stud at the end of his five-year-old campaign.

To watch some of Sir Michael Stoute’s John Porter Stakes wins, click the image below!



The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend is the first flat meeting of the 2024 season at Newbury.


This weekend always promises to deliver high quality action on the track and unveil exciting prospects for the Flat season ahead. As well as top quality racing, there is a a bundle of activities and exciting opportunities across both days.


Newbury Racecourse’s craft beer festival returns, featuring over 30 real ale and ciders from local brewers. Visit the beer tent and get the taste buds flowing with a large variety on offer. With live acoustic music throughout the afternoon on Friday and Saturday as well as an afterparty on the Saturday!