at Newbury Saturday afternoon it is the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials & Beer Festival to give
it its full title, or Greenham Stakes day; better known as the Fred Darling if
you are of my vintage! Anyway, i am going up nice and early with the bets.
They kick-off with the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (The John Porter Stakes) over a mile-and-a-half. Midterm has the best form on show for me; the colt looked set for a big year last season when he kicked off with a promising victory in the G.3 Classic Trial at Sandown. He missed the Derby with a stress fracture after disappointing in the G.2 Dante Stakes at York. He returned to the track in September when a close second to Japanese raider Makahiki in the G.2 Prix Niel at Chantilly before being asked a big question in the G.1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot when seventh behind Almanzor.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Midterm's owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "Midterm is grand. He wintered well and has enjoyed a straightforward preparation for this. We think a mile and a half looks to be his best trip, although he was far from disgraced behind Almanzor in the Champion Stakes after an interrupted season. He fits a good Sir Michael Stoute profile going forward. Newbury looks a nice starting point and hopefully he has a clear run this year."
I think he can kick his season off with a win in this and have the 2-1.
The classic generation of ladies take to the track for the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes at 2.30. Having won the Nell Gwyn earlier in the week with Daban, John Gosden and owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah are represented in this by Dabyah and she will be the jolly on the back of her third to Wuheida in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly. Second favourite is Richard Fahey's Frankel filly Queen Kindly who won the G.2 Lowther last year but looked to be about speed to my eye and she does need to prove her stamina over this seven furlongs.
This race has been a bit of a graveyard for short-priced ones in recent times and one that might go well at a price is James Tate's Urban Fox. She ran well in a number of Group races last season over seven furlongs and a mile before ending her campaign with a third place finish, 3¾ lengths clear of the rest, in the Group One Fillies' Mile at HQ chasing home subsequent 1,000 Guineas favourite Rhododendron (a big favourite here at Triple G) and Hydrangea. At 16-1 I am on each-way.
At 3.05 it is the turn of the colts to line-up for the Group Three JLT Greenham Stakes. It’s a tricky looking affair with several in with chances as the betting suggests.
Godolphin have a couple of potentially good’uns in the shapes Barney Roy and Dream Castle. Saeed bin Suroor's Frankel colt Dream Castle was unraced as a two-year-old but came out and won a Doncaster maiden earlier this month and could be anything, whilst Richard Hannon trained Barney Roy was an impressive winner of a Haydock maiden towards the end of last season and was subsequently bought by Godolphin after that success. Aidan O'Brien has sent over War Secretary who was a winner at Listed level at Dundalk on the all-weather on the 12th.
Zainhom looked promising for Sir Michael Stoute last season winning well at York on his second appearance before signing off with a second place in the G.3 Autumn Stakes at HQ behind Best Solution. The Hamdan Al Maktoum owned colt is nicely bred as you would expect and though doesn’t jump out at me as a potential Guineas winner could be up to winning this and other good prizes as the season unfolds. Grab the 4-1.
After the trials Chelsea Lad is out for the Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup Handicap at 3.40. The Martyn Meade trained four-year-old colt was fancied strongly by many for the Lincoln, and was going to be my bet, but didn't make the cut. I honestly think his current mark of 96 will be left far behind as the season progresses and he could be well-in here as they say. He has winning form on good-firm and Ryan More was booked to ride nice and early which must also be seen as a positive. I jumped on at 9-2 NRNB with Hills on Thursday.
The rest of the card is best watched.