Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 11:49 18/09/2014
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON WHERE TWO-YEAR-OLDS ARE CONCERNED WITH A CARD FEATURING SIX GROUP RACES INCLUDING THREE AT GRADE 1 LEVEL. THE MEETING CULMINATES WITH A CHARITY CONTEST IN WHICH TEN HORSES WILL SPORT EITHER THE LIGHT BLUE OF CAMBRIDGE OR THE DARK BLUE OF OXFORD.
1.45 THE DUBAI EUROPEAN BREEDERS FUND FILLIES NURSERY STAKES
2.20 THE VISION.ae CHALLENGE STAKES
2.55 THE VISION.ae MIDDLE PARK STAKES
3.30 THE DUBAI FILLIES MILE STAKES
4.05 THE DUBAI DEWHURST STAKES
4.40 THE DUBAI CORNWALLIS STAKES
5.15 THE DARLEY STAKES
5.45 THE OXFORD/CAMBRIDGE VARSITY CHARITY RACE
THE VISION.ae CHALLENGE STAKES ( GROUP 2 )
This Group 2 contest for three-year-olds and older is run over seven furlongs and dates back to 1878. Five of the last seven renewals have gone to the younger generation although prior to that four and five year-olds held the advantage taking all runnings between 2002 and 2006. There have been many notable winners over the last forty years including the likes on Kris, Moorestyle, Mystiko, Selkirk and Harayir but the recent trend is towards horses just short of top class. Last year’s race went to the filly Fiesolana and the Irish could hold a strong hand once again courtesy of recent Doncaster winner Ansgar who is likely to renew rivalry with runner-up Aljamaaheer once again.
THE VISION.ae MIDDLE PARK STAKES ( GROUP 1 )
First of the three Group 1 contests on the card this two-year-old six furlong contest was established in 1866 and despite having produced plenty of top class performers in recent years including Oasis Dream and Dream Ahead we have to go back to 1991 to find the last winner to go on to victory in the following seasons 2000 Guineas, that being the Peter Chapple-Hyem-trained Rodrigo de Triano. With the longer Dewhurst Stakes likely to be more of a target for potential Classic contenders the Middle Park is more capable of producing a leading sprinter than a possible Guineas winner.
60 Horses are currently entered for the race worth over £113k to the winner with the stables of Aidan O’Brien, Richard Hannon and Kevin Ryan well represented. Trainer John Quinn has just the one entry in The Wow Signal but the Coventry Stakes winner is likely to prove the one to beat after following up in Deauville’s Group 1 Prix Morny if allowed to take his chance while current 2000 Guineas favourite Ivawood is a possible for the Hannon stable. Best of the 13 entries from Ballydoyle looks to be impressive Goodwood scorer Highland Reel but the stable has plenty of able deputies including Dick Whittington and War Envoy.
THE DUBAI FILLIES MILE STAKES ( GROUP 1 )
Established in 1973 and originally run at Ascot this one mile contest for fillies is one of the leading juvenile trials for the following season’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks. No winner has gone on to victory in Newmarket’s fillies’ Classic since Bosra Sham in 1996 but Oh So Sharp, Diminuendo and Reams Of Verse all went on to take the following year’s Oaks at Epsom. The winner 12 months ago was the ill-fated Criselliam who beat future Group 1 Coronation Stakes winner Rizeena by a length.
A strong entry of 73 at present including 1000 Guineas favourite Cursory Glance who is unlikely to take up the option although two horses high up in the betting for the 1000 Guineas and ( or ) the Oaks, Found and Words, are possible runners at this stage for the Aidan O’Brien stable. Other interesting potential contenders are Lucida, Good Place and Pleascach.
THE DUBAI DEWHURST STAKES ( GROUP 1 )
This seven furlong Group 1 contest, run for the first time in 1875, is now recognised as the leading two-year-old trial for the following season’s Classics. Rock Of Gibraltar, Sir Percy, New Approach, Dawn Approach and the incomparable Frankel are just a few of the most recent winners to achieve great heights the following year. The list of great horses to win the race is too numerous to mention but include the likes of Nijinsky, Mill Reef and El Gran Senor and while the winner of 12 months ago War Command has proved something of a disappointment of late there is every chance that the 2014 renewal will produce the outstanding two-year-old of the current generation.
Worth over £204k to the winner and with an entry of 96 this looks like a possible vintage renewal with the likes of Estidhkaar, Full Mast, Gleneagles, Highland Reel, Ivawood, John F Kennedy, Ol’ Man River, Richard Pankhurst and The Wow Signal all possible at this early stage. Four of those are in the care of Aidan O’Brien who will be attempting to win the race for the fourth time, a record surpassed by fellow Irishman Jim Bolger who has won five of the last eight renewals and while most of his eight entries have yet to see the racecourse his Naas maiden winner Parish Boy may represent the stable on this occasion. Despite not having won the race before the powerful Richard Hannon stable have two leading contenders in Estidhkaar and Ivawood ( 20-1 and 8-1 respectively with Ladbrokes for the 2000 Guineas ) and whichever one turns up is sure to prove a strong fancy. The Criquette Head-Maarek-trained Full Mast is an interesting entry from France and could attempt to become the first winner from that country since Xaar in 1997.
THE DUBAI CORNWALLIS STAKES ( GROUP 3 )
Formerly run at Ascot this five furlong race for two-year-old is all about speed and since the first running in 1946 has been won by some top class sprinters, particularly in it’s early days when Derring-Do and Deep Diver were among the winners. The race has failed to attract the best juveniles over the minimum trip in recent years but was won 12 months ago by Hot Streak who won this year’s Temple Stakes at Haydock before finishing third in the Group 1 Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Last week’s Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster could have a bearing on this year’s renewal and provides the unlucky Cotai Glory ( unseated his jockey when clear approaching the winning line ) with a perfect opportunity to gain some consolation for trainer Charles Hills. The Exceed And Excel colt could face the first three home on that occasion – Beacon, Astrophysics and Accepted.
THE DARLEY STAKES ( GROUP 3 )
Open to three-year-olds and older and established in 1987 although the first running was abandoned due to high winds. Usually won by horses stepping up from handicap company and while it is impossible to forecast the likely make up of the race at this stage three trainers who have won the contest on two occasions are Luca Cumani, Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden.