Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Dual Group 2 scorer Mehmas, who is still engaged for the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes
Newbury Racecourse is gearing up for Dubai Duty Free International Weekend, which offers two-days of high-class racing on Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17.
Legendary music producer Mark Ronson will play a DJ set after racing on the Saturday. The multiple Grammy and Brit Award-winning Ronson is famed for producing seminal albums such as Amy Winehouse's Back to Black and Adele's 19. He has also collaborated with artists from Christina Aguilera to Duran Duran and was responsible for the worldwide number one hit Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars.
Tickets are still available and can be booked online here.
The racing highlight at the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend is the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, staged over six furlongs for two-year-olds at 2.15pm. The prestigious contest, worth £75,000, is named in honour of the legendary Mill Reef, one of the greatest post-war Derby winners and was won last year by subsequent G1 scorer Ribchester.
There are 40 entries remaining for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes following yesterday's scratching stage (available here) headed by Mehmas (Richard Hannon), who has already landed two G2 six-furlong contests this season - Newmarket's July Stakes and Goodwood's Richmond Stakes. He only found Caravaggio too good when runner-up in the G2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ireland's champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien, all-conquering with his juveniles in 2016 and responsible for the unbeaten Caravaggio, has four entries going forward - G1 Phoenix Stakes runner-up Courage Under Fire, G3 Round Tower Stakes victor Intelligence Cross, Leo Minor and Sportsmanship.
Another Irish trainer, Darren Bunyan, is hoping to saddle stable star Hit The Bid. The son of Exceed And Excel made headlines last time out when belying his 50/1 starting price to win the G3 Curragh Stakes over five furlongs at the Curragh on August 20.
That was his first start since finishing seventh behind Caravaggio in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes over the same course and distance in May, after which he had a wind operation.
Bunyan said: "At the moment, the plan is to come over for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.
"Hit The Bid came out of the Curragh Stakes very well and is fresh in himself. He was no more than 90 per cent fit going into it, so naturally we were very pleased with his performance. We feel he deserves to step up to a race like the Mill Reef on the back of that.
"I don't see six furlongs being an issue for him. Five or six furlongs is fine and another race I had my eye on was the Flying Childers at Doncaster. The biggest problem for him is the ground - even the last day Leigh [Roche] said he changed his legs five or six times as he wasn't enjoying it. He wants it quick and hasn't really had those conditions yet.
"It is definitely all ahead of him. He is 16' 1 and a big frame of a horse. He will have a maximum of one more run this season and then we will put him away for next year."
Trainer Bryan Smart has confirmed that the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes is the target for Alicante Dream, an impressive winner in Listed company at Ripon on Bank Holiday Monday, while fellow Listed scorers Mokarris (Simon Crisford) and Global Applause (Ed Dunlop) were second and fourth respectively in the G2 Gimcrack Stakes at York.
Other contenders going forward include Seven Heavens (John Gosden), a son of Frankel who made in two wins from as many starts when successful at Goodwood yesterday, and two G3 winners - the filly Nations Alexander (Richard Hannon), successful in the G3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket, and Yalta (Mark Johnston), who landed the G3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood.
The 57 confirmations for the £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.50pm - available here), staged over 10 furlongs on Saturday, September 17, are also revealed today, headed by joint top-weights Oasis Fantasy (Ed Dunlop) and Master Carpenter (Rod Millman).
The race programme on Saturday, September 17 includes two G3 races, the 11-furlong Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes (1.45pm) and the Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (3.25pm) over five furlongs. Both races have prize money of £60,000.
Racing on the Saturday, when there is a seven-race card, starts at 1.10pm, while the action on Friday, September 16 gets under way at 2.10pm. The Friday feature is the Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup over seven furlongs worth £37,000.