Sounds of Madness at Newbury Racecourse
A TOUCH of madness helped to swell the crowd to almost 21,000 for Saturday’s climactic day of the Dubai Duty Free International Meeting.
It was a House of Fun as 20,995 people spilled into the course, packing trains well before post-time, and revelling in the sunshine after a top class afternoon of racing.
But the racing was run in an atmosphere of mourning for many following the sudden death of the 33-year old Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the eldest son of Sheik Mohammed.
His brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, had several runners on the day, but opted to allow them to run in advance of the three days of official mourning in Dubai.
But flags were at half-mast and jockeys wore black armbands during the feature race.
That saw Ribchester win the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes for Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey, who also had a four-timer at Ayr on the same day to take his tally for the season closer to the 200 mark,
Ridden by Lamiourn-based James Doyle, three years after his first group one success in the same race, the juvenile provided too hot for the six-strong field as the mount led throughout to leave Richard Hannon’s Log Out Island and The Highclere Thorougbred Racing’s Raucous in his wake.
The horse, now touted for next year’s 2,000 Guineas after breaking maiden status, was acclaimed by the jockey: “It was a nice performance, he said. “ He's a big, raw type with plenty of scope and I would imagine that he will be much better next year. He is one I am looking forward to.”
The other big winner was The Corsican in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup over 11 furlongs, over which he left odds-on favourite Eagle Top trailing under Frankie Dettori.
Jamie Spencer overtook the 8/11 shot with two furlongs to run to book a spot in next month’s Group One Champion Stakes at Ascot, Doyle slipping Sky Hunter between the two.
“The Corsican won despite the ground,” said Spencer. “All week I have been worrying about the ground but he's a good horse. But I can't emphasise how much he wants faster ground.”
Sprinter Steps followed up last week’s win in the Portland handicap at Doncaster by winning a thrilling finish to the Dubai International Airport World Trophy as 7/2 favourite and gave Jamie Spencer a double.
Roger Varian's seven-year-old got up on the line to snatch the verdict from Ridge Ranger, Justice Day and Wind Fire with barely half a length covering the four while the 11/1 hope What About Carlo claimed the
£75,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap for Blewbury trainer Eve Johnson-Houghton and Aldbourne jockey George Baker in advance of his wedding in November.
Richard Hannon netted a double on the day with Tabarrak winning the opening Wedgewood Estates EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes under Dane O’Neill, and Jimmy Fortune bringing home Storm Rising to win the Dubai Duty Free Nursery Handicap.
The 110th anniversary meeting’s crowd of 20,995 was the highest at the course since 2012.