Local trainers - and Frankie - make waves at Newbury Racecourse's first weekend of the Flat season
The Friday of Newbury Racecourse's first Flat meeting of the season - the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend - saw sunshine and good racing, the Saturday (April 21) saw a little less less sunshine but some great racing.
Saturday's three G3 races and a thrilling £50,000 handicap made sure the Newbury crowd of 8,200 was well entertained - and they were granted two of Frankie Dettori's trademark flying dismounts.
On Saturday, the ground was on the slow side, good to soft, soft in places, and rain was limited to a few drops and there were potential Classic winners on show.
Saturday was also the replacement charity day for Greatwood - the charity based at Clench Common just south of Marlborough, that looks after retired racehorses and uses them to help the area's disadvantaged children. Their planned day at the beginning of March had to be abandoned due to the snow...remember the snow?
Manton trainer Brian Meehan scored a notable victory in the first race of the day -the one mile Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden. His three-year-old Adjutant set off at 50-1 and under Jim Crowley won in a photo finish - a head clear of Why We Dream.
Adjutant had come seventh of 11 at Haydock Park last year when trained by David O'Meara in Yorkshire. The Meehan team were plainly delighted with the result and the trainer had expected a good race from the colt: "No, he did not surprise me - I thought he would run a big race. We did some good work with him last week and I guess the market was formed all around the favourite."
"I am very pleased with Adjutant - he battled to the line and I think he will get a little further. I thought he looked good and I couldn't be happier." Meehan did comment on the lasting results of the winter: "All my horses are behind this year - three weeks to a month I would reckon."
Meehan also had a third place with Last Viceroy in the Carter Jonas Maiden Stakes.
Another local trainer to have success on the second say of the Newbury meeting was Richard Hannon. His horse Raymond Tusk won the second division of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden under Tom Marquand. And he sent out two second placed horses - Danehill Kodiac in the Group 3 John Porter Stakes, and Tajannus in the Fred Darling Stakes.
However, Gavota - trained by Roger Charlton at Beckhampton - who was favourite underRyan Moore to take the Fred Darling Stakes, came a disappointing ninth of the ten runners.
There was great debate amongst punters at Newbury about the £60,000 G3 Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes. Over seven furlongs this is seen as a trial for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on May 5 - and the first four to finish all hold a 2000 Guineas entry.
All eyes were on Expert Eye trained by Sir Michael Stoute. But, the race was won by James Garfield from Newmarket trainer George Scott's yard - with Frankie Dettori aboard.
Scott, aged 29, said the Exceed & Excel colt will now go for Newmarket's Group 1 2000 Guineas - again with Dettori.
Scott was delighted with James Garfield's performance: "Frankie is keen to go to Guineas and he is the man who knows the most about that. I don't see why not...It is his attitude that sets him apart - he has this will to win in everything he does. He will be my first Classic runner."
After his flying dismount, Frankie Dettori, said the horse was certainly entitled to take his chance in the Guineas: "James Garfield is a lovely little horse with a massive heart, who tries really hard. When he gallops, he gets his head down like a Jack Russell and he has got a lot of courage, handles any ground and also any sort of undulations."
Dettori then went on to win the £50,000 Elite Racing Club Supporting Greatwood Spring Cup Handica over a mile. Most of the riders of the 22 runners thought that the stands' side was the place to be and crowded over towards it.
Dettori on Taqdeer (trained by John Gosden and owned by Sheikh Hamdan) was drawn in stall 17 and he decided that there was no way through the field so he came around it towards the centre of the course.
He got a good late run out his mount who got up to win by a neck, beating 11/1 chance Humbert (Hugo Palmer/Josephine Gordon), with Keyser Soze (Richard Spencer/Jamie Spencer, 5/1) a head back in third.
The result was a popular one, with Dettori completing a double on the 4/1 favourite. And he celebrated with another flying dismount - after all it was his second double of the meeting. On Friday he had won on back to back races - first on the Ralph Beckett trained Dave Dexter, and then on the Gosden trained Lah Ti Dar.
As one seasoned racegoer asked: "What is this sport going to do when Frankie retires? He does so much for racing - he's just so popular - and such a wonderful jockey too."