Newbury Racecourse's flat season gets off to a fine start with the Spring Trials Weekend
Waiting for the crowds
Newbury’s opening Flat meeting of 2017, the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend (April 21 and 22), features well supported Classic trials, a Group race for older horses over a mile and a half, competitive handicaps and maiden races suited to bringing forward stars of the future.
It is a combination aided by excellent prize money, with the Saturday card worth £260,000 and the Friday programme totalling £112,000.
The first of the three Group Three races on Saturday is the £60,000 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (1.55pm) for four-year-olds and upwards over a mile and a half. This race was won last year by HM The Queen's Dartmouth - trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore
The race has attracted 14 entries including Idaho - placed third in last year’s Investec Derby - from the stables of Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien, Group One performer Midterm (Sir Michael Stoute), unbeaten Crimean Tatar (Hugo Palmer), listed winner Dal Harraild (William Haggas) and Group One winner Second Step (Roger Charlton) who has switched trainers.
The first of the informative Classic trials is the £60,000 Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes (2.30pm,7f) for three-year-old fillies. The 19 entries are led by intended runner Dabyah (John Gosden), a close third in a French Group One last year, with Queen Kindly (Richard Fahey) likely to provide the most opposition after winning the Group Two Lowther Stakes and coming home fourth in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes in 2016.
The Saturday climaxes with the Group Three JLT Greenham Stakes (3.05pm, 7f), a key trial for the mile Classic - the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. The two most powerful owners in European racing, Coolmore and Godolphin, each have four three-year-old colts entered among the 18 in the race, with running plans likely to become clearer later in the week.
The seven-furlong Newbury race, with £60,000 in prize money, has been won by superstars Frankel and Kingman in recent years.
The £50,000 Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup Handicap (Saturday, 3.40pm, 1m), the £25,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (Friday, 4.40pm, 5f) and the £25,000 Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd Silver Bar Handicap (Friday, 2.30pm, 2m 2f) are the main handicaps over the two days.
Added to the sport on the racecourse is Newbury's seventh annual two-day Beer Festival. A full list of 51 ales and 10 ciders is being lined up.
Returning this year are Festival favourites from West Berkshire, Andwell, Bond Brews, Indigenous, Uphams and Loddon breweries and many more, while Newbury newbies arrive from Betteridge and Three Castles Breweries.
The Beer Festival is open on both days of Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend in the marquee on the Copper King Lawn in the Grandstand Enclosure.
The gates open at 12 noon on Friday and 11am on Saturday. After racing on Saturday, there is live music from folk duo Steve Carroll & Megan Rhodes into
Newbury Racecourse’s 2017 flat programme continues next month with the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (May 20) - the Group One race over a mile worth £350,000.