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Competitive field assembled for season opener





The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting - taking place on Friday and Saturday - could offer more clarity to the Classic picture with many runners set to make their seasonal reappearances this weekend.

The first Flat meeting of the year at Newbury Racecourse features the Group 3 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes, as well as the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (The John Porter Stakes) and the Dubai Duty Free Stakes (The Fred Darling Stakes).

With an illustrious roll of honour featuring the likes of Olympic Glory, Kingman and Mohaather, the Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes has thrown up some of the best three-year-olds in recent years and unveiled outstanding milers.

However, not since Frankel in 2011 has the winner of this Classic trial gone on to win the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas.

Featured amongst the 16 strong entries revealed today for the seven-furlong contest include the fourth-placed horse in the 2023 Dewhurst Stakes, Henry Adams, trained by Aidan O’Brien.

By No Nay Never, he may return to the turf following a disappointing run on the dirt at Meydan in the UAE Derby.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, God’s Window finished third in the Group 1 Kameko Futurity Trophy on heavy ground on only his second start.

The son of Dubawi holds some lofty entries including the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas, Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes, Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and Betfred Derby.

Having not run as a two-year-old, Native Approach (C Appleby) has had two career starts on the all-weather at Kempton and is one of two in the race by Too Darn Hot.

Army Ethos was beaten a neck by the subsequent dual Group 1 placed River Tiber in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The son of Shalaa could step up in trip for the first time after a second-place finish on his seasonal reappearance in a Class 5 Novice Stakes when sent off 2/9 favourite.

Others amongst the 16entries includes the unbeaten Ralph Beckett trained Zoum Zoum and the Wathnan Racing-owned Mister Sketch (E Johnson-Houghton) and Ballymount Boy (A Keatley).

The meeting also features a Classic trial for the fillies with the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (The Fred Darling Stakes).

The seven-furlong contest attracted 11 entries, four of whom are currently unbeaten.

The winner of both her career starts including the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes, Dance Sequence, holds an entry for Godolphin, however, is declared in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on Wednesday.

Having broken her maiden on her first start in a Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Southwell, Elmalka, may make her turf debut for Roger Varian.

Folgaria (M Botti), the daughter of Due Diligence, is unbeaten in four starts in Italy, including Group 2 success in the Premio Dormello when trained by Marco’s brother Stefano Botti.

A €350,000 yearling purchase from Goffs Orby, Lunar Eclipse made a promising debut when winning on heavy ground in a Fillies’ Novice Stakes at the Rowley Mile in November.

Trained by David Simcock, the filly holds entries in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas and Betfred Oaks.

The winner of the 2023 Weatherby’s Super Sprint, Relief Rally (W Haggas), could step up to seven furlongs for the first time.

Following her comfortable victory in the Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, the daughter of Kodiac could have her first start for new owner Zhang Yuesheng having been sold for 800,000 guineas at the Tattersalls December Mare sale.

Thirteen hold entries in the 1m4f Duty Dubai Free Finest Surprise Stakes (The John Porter Stakes) headed by the 2023 BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner and Betfred St Leger Stakes runner up, Arrest (J&T Gosden).

With the going currently soft, good to soft (in places) at Newbury, one horse who will enjoy the softer conditions is Hamish, trained by William Haggas, the winner of his last four starts.

Chesspiece, trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, has form on soft ground when beaten a neck by Desert Hero in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes over 1m4f at Goodwood.

Having been placed over 1m6f he may step back down in trip for Saturday’s John Porter Stakes.

Tickets for the racing action are available via newburyracecourse.co.uk while all under 18s go free.



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