Excellent entries have been received today for the £60,000 G3 Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes over seven furlongs at Newbury on Saturday, April 21, day two of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend.
A leading early-season Classic trial, recent winners of the Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes include Kingman (2014), who went on claim the the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James's Palace Stakes, QIPCO Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques Le Marois, and the incomparable Frankel (2011), who remained unbeaten in 14 races, 10 of which were at Group One level, becoming the best horse ever in the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings with a rating of 140.
The 15 entries for this year's renewal are headed by Sir Michael Stoute's Expert Eye, who connections have confirmed is an intended runner on Saturday. Successful on his debut at Newbury over an extended six furlongs in June last year, the three-year-old son of Acclamation was an impressive winner of the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in August over seven furlongs.
He bids to provide Newmarket-based Stoute with a third winner in the Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes following on from Yalaietanee (1970) and Final Straw (1980).
Potential opposition is headed by the George Scott-trained James Garfield. Fourth to Expert Eye at Goodwood in August, the Exceed And Excel colt plundered the G2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury in September over six furlongs in excellent style.
French G2 winner Fighting Irish represents Lambourn-based handler Harry Dunlop and is on target for Saturday's race. Successful in the six-furlong Criterium de Maisons-Lafitte in October, the three-year-old son of Camelot won a handicap event over the same trip at Yarmouth in September.
Dunlop, who trains at Windsor House Stables, said today: "Fighting Irish is in really good form at home and the plan is to run at Newbury on Saturday in the Greenham.
"He has wintered well, he has strengthened and he seems really well.
"He won well over six furlongs at Maisons-Lafitte in October and we are running him in the Greenham to see if he stays seven furlongs.
"He ran once over seven furlongs last season [fourth, York, September 17], but we're hopeful that this year he will see the trip out a bit better.
"The ground is not a real worry for him. He has won twice on soft ground and we wouldn't worry about any type of ground with him - we're looking forward to running.
"We'll see how he runs on Saturday, but if he seems to stay the trip, we are thinking about races including the French and German Guineas with him, so we'll see what happens.
"It was a good performance in France last time and we would hopefully like to go back to France once again with him this year at some point."
Wiltshire-based trainer Richard Hannon has two entries in the seven-furlong event, headed by Al Shaqab's Racing Qaysar, who made a winning reappearance at Kempton on the All-Weather over six furlongs on March 31, with the unexposed Bullingdon, successful in a Salisbury maiden over seven furlongs in August also entered.
Headway (William Haggas) registered an impressive victory on Polytrack at Lingfield in the Listed Spring Cup Stakes in March on his return to action, having signed off last year with a dead-heated third with Cardsharp (Mark Johnston) in the G2 Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes at York on August 26, 2017.
The exciting Glendevon (Richard Hughes), a ready winner of a seven-furlong maiden on Polytrack at Kempton in October, the unbeaten Glorious Journey (Charlie Appleby), successful in a G3 event at Salisbury in September, and Connect (Clive Cox), who landed a Listed event over a mile at Pontefract in October, are other eye-catching entries for the Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes.
Desert Doctor (Ed Walker), sixth in the Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships Finals at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, and James Tate's Hey Gaman, successful in the Listed Denford Stakes over course and distance in August are other possible starters.
Arrogant (Jose Santos), Cold Stare (David O'Meara) and Raid (David Simcock) complete the 15 entries for the G3 event.
Al Basti Equiworld will sponsor the Greenham Stakes, in support of Greatwood, the Marlborough-based charity that uses former racehorses to educate disadvantaged children and young adults with Special Educational Needs.
Al Basti Equiworld has been a supporter of Greatwood since 2014 when the UAE's leading distributor of horse feeds, feed supplements and veterinary medicines, committed to provide funding to enable the charity to expand its educational programmes with the construction of the Al Basti Equiworld Classroom.
The opportunity arose after Greatwood's popular charity day in early March fell victim to the weather and activities were transferred to the opening fixture of Newbury's 19-day Flat racing season.
Al Basti Equiworld founder Malih Al Basti said: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to further support Greatwood's excellent work in the racing industry and the local community. We have supported Greatwood's educational programmes for more than three years and are pleased to be extending our association to include this important racing event."
An accomplished racehorse owner with a wide-range of commercial interests in racing, Mr Al Basti has enjoyed considerable success at Newbury, most notably when Angel's Pursuit carried the Dubai-based businessman's colours to victory in the 2010 running of the Listed Carnarvon Stakes, having finished runner-up in the G2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes the previous year.
Subsequent Meydan winner, Desert Force, provided a further highlight at the Berkshire course making all to take the Dubai Duty Free Handicap Stakes at this meeting in 2015.
Greatwood co-founder and Managing Director Helen Yeadon added: "We are indebted to Mr Malih Al Basti for supporting us yet again by so kindly sponsoring the prestigious Greenham Stakes, we remain overwhelmed by his continual generosity and magnanimity to Greatwood and are immensely grateful to him."
Ellthea (Karl Burke), with a rating of 107, tops the 20 entries for the £60,000 G3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (2.35pm) over seven furlongs on Saturday.
The Kodiac filly quickened nicely to win a valuable nursery at Doncaster's St Leger meeting in September and proved that was no fluke with victory in the G3 C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes (7f) at Naas, Ireland, on soft ground later the same month, when she defeated Sizzling by just under three lengths.
Ellthea finished fifth behind stablemate Laurens in the G1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket on her final start of the campaign in October.
Trainer Karl Burke said today: "Ellthea is in good order. We decided to skip Newmarket and give her an extra couple of days, which allows me to do a little bit of work with her tomorrow morning, as we felt Newbury probably wouldn't dry out as quickly as Newmarket might.
"She has strengthened more than she has grown height-wise over the winter. She is not an overly big filly, but she certainly looks as though she has trained on and Saturday should tell us a lot more.
"This is very much a trial and should tell us whether or not Group One races are on the table afterwards, but we are hopeful."
Khalid Abdullah's homebred Gavota (Roger Charlton) also has a good level of form, having finished third in the G2 Rockfel Stakes and second in the G3 Oh So Sharp Stakes, both over seven furlongs at Newmarket.
Hannon, who landed the spoils two years ago with Marenko, has three contenders to choose from in G3 Sweet Solera Stakes scorer Tajaanus, Natural and All Out.
Newmarket trainer David Simcock is doubly represented by two exciting fillies in Teppal and Worship. Teppal is unbeaten in two starts, including a four-length verdict at Kempton Park on her latest start in September, while Worship was a cosy winner on her only start at the same venue just before Christmas.
Others to note include Cheveley Park Stud-owned pair of Tallow (William Haggas), the winner of two of her three starts, and G3 Princess Margaret Stakes second Dance Diva (Richard Fahey).
Hikmaa (Ed Vauaghan) and Eirene (Dean Ivory) captured Listed contests at Newbury in 2017, although both fillies are due to run at Newmarket on Wednesday.
The first of three G3 contests on the card is the £60,000 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (2.00pm) over 12 furlongs. Past winners include Harbinger, who took the spoils in 2010 on his way to a devastating 11-length in the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The 10 entries for this year's renewal are headed by G3 Bahrain Trophy victor Raheen House, who has finished second in all four of his starts at Newbury, and Defoe (Roger Varian), successful in four of his five outings in 2017 including in the G3 Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
Harbinger's trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won the race a record seven times and could saddle G3 winner Autocratic.
The seven-race card on Saturday runs from 2.00pm through to 5.30pm. The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend gets underway on Friday, April 20, with a seven-race programme running from 1.50pm through to 5.05pm.
A superb list of 24 local breweries has been revealed for Newbury Racecourse's eighth annual Beer & Cider Festival which takes place over Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend.
Returning this year are Festival favourites from West Berkshire, Andwell, Bond Brews, Indigenous, Upham and Loddon breweries and many more from around the region.
The festival will be open on both days of Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend and will be found in a marquee next to the Dubai Duty Free Stand in the Grandstand Enclosure. Gates open at 12 noon on Friday and 11am on Saturday giving racegoers plenty of time to sample a wonderful variety of tipples before the first race of each day gets underway.
Latest Going News
Richard Osgood, Clerk of the Course at Newbury, said today: "At long last it has stopped raining. The going is still Soft, but we have a very drying forecast from today onwards.
"Temperatures are also set to rise. We are 15 degrees today and by the middle of the week should be hitting the 20s. The wind is also increasing, which will also help the course to dry out."