BRENDAN Powell has a real dark horse going in pursuit of Friday’s Dubai Duty Free Cup over seven furlongs at Newbury.
The Upper Lambourn trainer sends out Dark Emerald on the first day of the Dubai Duty Free International Meeting after the horse returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival with wins in a brace of valuable handicaps and runners-up spot in the Group Two Zabeel Mile.
The five-year-old was last seen out when losing by a short-head to Richard Pankhurst in a seven-furlong conditions race at Haydock Park early this month.
“Dark Emerald is as fresh as paint after his run at Haydock,” said the trainer.
“He keeps running great races and we would love to get his head in front again before we give him a break and head back to Dubai.
“Looking at the race on Friday, he has got every chance. He has won on heavy ground and fast ground, so the going is not a concern.”
Rivals include the Hugo Palmer-trained Ascription under William Buick, and last year's runner-up Jallota, run by Charlie Hills with James Doyle in the saddle.
The three-year-old challenge is led by Brian Meehan’s Montalcino (Bwhile Frankie Dettori will partner the lightly-raced Hathal for trainer William Haggas.
Sandown scorer Special Season tops an eight-strong field of two-year-olds in the £16,000 Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes, the mile contest that boars the likes of Shergar, Rainbow Quest, King's Theatre and Nayef as previous winners.
Nayef's trainer Marcus Tregoning is bidding for a sixth win in the race since 1999 with Tukhoom, who is an Acclamation half-brother to dual Listed victor Tupi.
“Tukhoom is a slow maturing, scopey horse and is typical of the type of horse we like to run in the race.
“I don't know how soft the ground will be but if it is soft it will probably suit a horse that has had a run.”
The meeting continues on Saturday when the £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes is the on-course highlight with UK pop legends Madness performing in the post-racing Party in the Paddock.