It is Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Saturday at Newbury this weekend with three Group Three races on the seven-race card including the first of the recognised Guineas trials the Dubai Duty Free Stakes (better known as the Fred Darling Stakes) and the Watership Down Stud Greenham Stakes; make sure you have the notebook handy.
The 1m4f group Three Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes gets things underway at 1.40 with the older generation strutting their stuff before the Classic hopefuls. Five-year-old Defoe won this on his seasonal reappearance and he goes well fresh, won on 2yo debut and 3yo seasonal debut also. Well beaten in the Arc prior to that he was far from disgraced in a couple of G.1’s.
Young Rascal did little wrong last year, his only defeat coming in the Derby. Three of his four wins have come with the word soft in the going description and clearly, the colt likes it here as he is 3 wins from 3 runs in Berkshire having dead-heated in the G.3 St Simon over C&D on his final start of 2018. Has to give Defoe 3lb but is lightly raced and should still be improving. Grab some of the 3-1.
The fillies take centre stage at 2.10 for the 7f Dubai Duty Free Stakes and it looks an open contest. So Perfect's form is the strongest on offer after she was second to Advertise in the Phoenix Stakes, and not beaten far by stablemate Fairyland in the Cheveley Park last year. That said Ralph Beckett trained Dancing Vega ran just once at two and the effort remains fresh in the memory when she won on good-soft by four lengths on her debut at Doncaster. The second went on to win a Listed heat at HQ and this chestnut filly has all the entries you would expect. Again, I have a bit of the carpet 3-1.
The 7f Group 3 Greenham Stakes is the main event at 2.40. Red hot Qipco 2,000 Guineas favourite Too Darn Hot reportedly went well on his first workout on grass over at Newmarket last Saturday morning but it was then reported on Wednesday that he had been found to have some heat in his splint bone having had a breeze on the Al Bahathri earlier that day. The colt will almost certainly now head straight to the 2,000 Guineas. I was not going to bet in the race as the jolly would have been long odds-on but you can get involved now. Boitron will likely be the jolly the colt having finished his 2yo campaign coming fourth in the G.1 Qatar Prix Jean-luc Lagardere won by Royal Marine; won his first three outings, two of them here. Royal Marine was a little disappointing out in Dubai back in January but the second that day Broome came out and won the 1m2f G.3 Ballysax Stakes earlier this month, andfifth-placedd Shaman has won Listed and G.3 races this season already in France. It’s arguably the best form on show from the 2yo campaigns. I am not convinced at least one won’t have improved passed him over the winter though. Hello Youmzain looked a promising type last season and has the best form with the word ‘soft’ in the going description. The colt certainly appeared to be going in the right direction when winning the Group 3 Criterium de Maisons-Laffite with what appeared to be a bit up his sleeve last back end. There is no reason to think he won’t stay this extra furlong and with the yard in fair form and James Doyle booked to ride at the 7-2 with Betfair early he is the pick – missed the 5’s Ladbrokes went very early.