THE 50th running of the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (2.50) takes central billing at Newbury today. The first renewal was won by Richard Hannon snr, who went on to become the joint most successful trainer in the race with four wins - Cool Creek the latest in 2005 - but surprisingly his son has yet to win the race.
Hannon jnr has a chance to correct that today with the supplemented Shouldvebeenaring who already has three wins to his name. He just about landed a significant gamble in the big Goffs UK sales race at York (value for the small winning margin) and then scored a listed success in the Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy in Ripon, again coming late and fast to win the day.
The son of Havana Grey was supplemented for today’s Group 2 at a cost of €5,000 and was the preferred option for Hannon in the race, who also had left in the classy Persian Force at the five-day stage.
Shouldvebeenaring is second favourite, with bookmakers preferring the chances of Sakheer, who runs for the St Leger winning trio of David Egan, Roger Varian and Bahraini owner Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, operating under the KHK Racing banner.
A €550,000 purchase at the Arqana May Breeze-up, the son of Zoffany has been given plenty of time, somewhat unusual given the genre of sale he came from. He was a beaten favourite at Windsor in August but couldn’t have been more impressive when bolting up at Haydock last time.
His trainer also runs Charyn, another Haydock maiden winner before finishing second in novice event at Newmarket, and he said of the pair’s chances: “They are two nice colts and the race fits them both. They both lack a bit of experience, but they have both shown huge promise in their two starts and deserve to be in a race like this.
“Sakheer won well at Haydock and has always worked very well. He has looked of good ability throughout the summer. It’ll be a bit more of a test for him on Saturday, it’s a good race, but we’ll learn a bit more about him.”
The Mill Reef doesn’t have an amazing record of producing subsequent Group 1 winners at two or three - Harry Angel was the most notable graduate in recent times - but if there is a top-class colt in today’s race, it probably is going to be Sakheer.
Egan has a good chance to further progress his relationship with potentially progressive owners. His season took a downturn when he lost the ride on Mishriff following a luckless run in the Eclipse, but he and that horse’s fate have contrasted since, with the Irish rider claiming his first classic last Saturday.
Ken Condon runner
Elsewhere at Newbury, look out for Ken Condon’s filly Teresa Mendoza in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (2.15).
The four-year-old has run well in Britain already this season, having finished fourth to Flotus in the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York. She mainly races over six furlongs so the drop down to five is interesting today. Donegal native Martin Harley takes the ride.
Over at Newmarket, Peter Fahey runs Insane Bolt in the £50,000 Turners Cesarewitch Trial Handicap. The six-year-old has been in good form this summer, but faces a different proposition today by racing as far as he ever has on the flat, two miles and two furlongs. Veteran jockey John Egan, David’s dad, takes the ride.
JumpJumps season proper drawing close as Kemboy returns
AS we approach October, jumps fans will be itching for action, with the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham, the Munster National and the Persian War featured Chepstow card all seen as season start-ups.
However, traditionally Listowel’s Harvest Festival has proven a popular starting point for trainers in this country and an early treat is in store with somewhat surprisingly early return of multiple Grade 1 winner Kemboy, who will take on his more summer-orientated stablemate Easy Game in the Kerry Group Chase, a €40,000 two-and-a-half-mile contest tomorrow (4.40).
Easy Game is a winning machine, having scored 13 times in a fine career, with three of those wins coming this summer. He has fitness on his side and possibly may be more at home over this intermediate distance but he must concede 6lb to Kemboy, who is in turn rated 6lb higher than him, so that makes the race an intriguing contest.
Gordon Elliott traditionally has his string firing early, with October to December a sweet-spot period for team Cullentra. He saddled 20 winners when he returned to training ranks in this month last year and he has no less than 19 runners declared at Navan and Listowel this weekend.
Pats Choice, The Friday Man, The Insider and Chemical Energy are among Elliott’s best chances across the two cards on what might be a big weekend for his Cullentra team.