Newbury's climax to the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend took on even greater significance when the Ayr Gold Cup meeting scheduled for the same September Saturday afternoon was abandoned. Five Dubai Duty Free sponsored races were at the heart of the Newbury card and ITV swiftly moved their live televised show to the Berkshire course, blessed with another sunlit day. A large crowd took home a host of memories.
One highlight promised to be in the feature race, the Group 2 GBP 75,000 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes over six furlongs and so it proved with a track record for James Garfield. Last year the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes was won by this year's champion sprinter Harry Angel and the year previous by the champion miler Ribchester. Both were maidens, unlike James Garfield who according to his young trainer George Scott has "Danced every dance".
James Garfield won at Doncaster and had been placed at Royal Ascot, Goodwood and York. Victory climaxed an unforgettable week for Scott who had earlier married Polly, daughter of James Garfield's owner-breeder Bill Gredley. The honeymoon is planned when the season closes - one which Scott will be hoping never ends. The Newmarket trainer will head to California next month with his Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef hero for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Scott is in only his third season with his trainer's licence: his father-in-law has been in the game for half a century and is also proud owner-breeder of Ascot Gold Cup winner Big Orange, trained by Scott’s former boss Michael Bell.
A good choice of 'best man' at the Scott wedding would have been the charismatic Frankie Dettori who rode James Garfield superbly and held the Newbury crowd in the palm of his hand with another virtuoso performance - in and out of the saddle as he made his crowd-pleasing flying dismount in the winners enclosure.
In the very next race the GBP 75,000 ten furlong Dubai Duty Free Handicap Mill Reef's trainer Ian Balding was on hand to congratulate his son Andrew on saddling Brorocco in the Mill Reef colours bestowed by the late Paul Mellon to the Kingsclere Racing Club. "He has run hard all season," said Andrew Balding, "And more than deserved another victory." He left his father Ian, trainer of the great Mill Reef at nearby Kingsclere, to collect the trophy - hurrying off to saddle Rosie Briar in the next race, the Group Three GBP 60,000 Dubai International Airport World Trophy.
There was further romance in this electric sprint. Last year the five furlongs event went to Cotai Glory who despite a string of creditable efforts had not won since. He was thwarted this time by the evergreen ten-year-old Take Cover trained by David Griffiths in the North of England. Griffiths was grateful if sympathetic that Ayr was off so that he could call on Take Cover's regular jockey David Allan to switch to Newbury.
"Take Cover is having the time of his life," said an enthused Griffiths, "He didn't race until he was four and it was four years ago he ran fourth in this self-same race. He's in love with the game. Hopefully we'll be back next year."
David Simcock was more guarded following Desert Encounter's hard won success in the competitive Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup GBP 60,000. "That's a relief," said Simcock who confessed to having had a barren patch lately. Now there is a chance Desert Encounter will be off to Canada for a valuable race at Woodbine Racecourse, Toronto.
The abiding memory of the day was saved until last when the fitting conclusion was an unforgettable victory for Her Majesty The Queen with Daphne in the GBP 11,500 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap. Not the least remarkable feature of the performance was that the race was the four-year-old fillies' first outing for over a year after a career threatening leg injury.
The Queen's racing manager John Warren said how delighted Her Majesty would be and how patient she had been with her home-bred filly who might otherwise have retired. Warren complimented trainer William Haggas for his expertise in returning Daphne to the track and Haggas's wife Maureen, representing her husband, said they may now look for black type to increase still further the value of this beautiful breeding prospect.
There was success early in the day for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the Minister of Finance when his exciting prospect Emaraaty, a 2,600,000 guineas purchase who holds multiple Group 1 entries including next year’s Epsom Derby, made all to win the second division of the Wedgewood Estates EBF Novice Stakes in impressive fashion.<< Back