The Dubai Duty Free International Weekend at the iconic Newbury Racecourse was a glorious success on Friday and Saturday.
The meeting featured the prestigious £90,000 Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes over six furlongs for two-year-olds.
In recent years, the race has launched the careers of top class stallions like Ribchester, Harry Angel, Kessaar and Dark Angel.
This renewal was a triumph for tradition with Array taking the top honours
“Obviously we always try to find something good enough for this race named for my father’s great horse,” said a smiling Andrew Balding after Array held off a pack of challengers, including stablemate Spanish Phoenix, who finished close fourth.
“We hadn’t won the Mill Reef for a few years,” observed Balding. “So this is very welcome.”
Array relished making the running and was allowed his head by Oisin Murphy. The colt is from the family of Frankel and Balding hopes his stamina will stretch to a mile next year when both trainer and jockey were of the opinion that Array would be an even better prospect.
The seven-race card on Saturday commenced with the Group 3 £70,000 Dubai International Airport World Trophy five-furlong sprint which went to the meeting’s lone Irish raider, Thunderbear.
Two valuable handicaps came next and Hughie Morrison’s Not So Sleepy, aged eleven and returning from almost a year off, made all under Oisin Murphy in the £70,000 Dubai Duty Free Autumn Cup Handicap.
“He works on his own and they left him alone,” said local trainer Morrison. “You know he ran here as a two-year-old in 2014, and finished last. He’s run in the Champion Hurdle – he might go hurdling again though we’ll think about the Cesarewitch at Newmarket next month. It’s character horses like Not So Sleepy that make this game what it is.”
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty Free, was delighted with the event's success.
“We are extremely proud of our partnership with Newbury Racecourse which is now in its 28th year," said McLoughlin.
"The Dubai Duty Free International Weekend is one of the highlights of our European sponsorship portfolio and we are enjoying another fantastic renewal featuring many of racing’s biggest names.”
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