Promising two-year-old Duckett’s Grove debuts for Walker at Newbury on Friday

Newbury stages the first day of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend this Friday, September 21, with an exciting eight-race programme starting at 1.10pm, runners for which were revealed today.

The highlight for two-year-olds is the £16,000 Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Race (3.25pm, seven runners). The mile contest has a rich history, with Classic winners Henbit, Shergar, Rainbow Quest, Shahrastani, King’s Theatre and more recently Authorized all having taken part in the race since its inception in 1979.

Wine merchant Haynes, Hanson & Clark, Newbury’s longest-running current sponsor, has backed the race since 1981, and the contest is in the top five of the longest current sponsorships in British horseracing.

Lambourn trainer Ed Walker, who captured the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Race with subsequent G1-placed Stormy Antarctic in 2015, saddles a new recruit to his yard in Duckett’s Grove.

Duckett’s Grove, a son of US turf star Point Of Entry, was purchased privately by owner P K Siu after powering to a two and half-length victory on debut in a mile maiden at Cork, Ireland, on August 11, for trainer/owner Emmet Mullins.

Walker revealed today: “Duckett’s Grove has not been with us all that long. He came to us in good nick, having obviously won well on debut at Cork.

“He is a big, scopey, rangy horse who is very much one for next year, but he was obviously forward enough to be able to win a maiden first time out.

“He has only done a couple of pieces of work here. He is a light-framed horse and has done it very well.

“Duckett’s Grove is a different type to Stormy Antarctic – Stormy had more experience when he won this race.

“We go there hopeful on Friday, but it does look a hot renewal.”

Dashing Willoughby (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy) and Palavecino (Brian Meehan/William Buick) are also defending unbeaten records after debut victories at Wolverhampton and Ffos Las respectively.

Mark Johnston could join Marcus Tregoning as the joint-most successful trainer in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Race on five victories. The record-breaking handler saddles dual winner Nayef Road (Richard Kingscote), who sets the standard with a rating of 95 following wins at Haydock Park and Newmarket.

Beat Le Bon (Ryan Moore) was beaten narrowly on debut at Newbury in July, but is highly-regarded by trainer Richard Hannon.

Daniel Dravot (Michael Attwater/William Carson) and the debutant Raakib Alhawa (David Simcock/Andrea Atzeni) complete the seven runners.

The richest race on Friday’s card is the £37,000 Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes (3.55pm) over seven furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards. Four-year-old Mjjack (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee) heads the ratings on 109 following a wide margin success in a Haydock Park conditions race over this distance on September 6.

Nebo (Charlie Hills/Ryan Moore) has won two of his three starts at Newbury, notably the G3 Worthington’s Stakes over course and distance in October, 2017.

Fellow three-year-old Red Mist (Simon Crisford/Silvestre de Sousa), who has been Listed-placed on three occasions, made short work of his rivals in a mile conditions race at Ripon on August 28.

Walker and owner P K Siu are represented by Ultimate Avenue (Richard Kingscote), whose sole victory to date came in a seven-furlong two-year-old maiden at Newbury in August, 2016. The four-year-old has six lengths to make up on Mjjack on their running at Haydock Park.

Walker added: “Ultimate Avenue has been a great disappointment, as he is a very talented horse.

“He is returning to the scene of his maiden win and I have got no doubt that, despite being wrong at the weights, he is good enough for this company.

“He just needs everything to go right. He has had his issues, including breathing problems which I think are fixed now, but it has kind of left its mark on him mentally.

“If he relaxes and behaves, he is capable of pulling off a bit of a shock.”

Other highlights on Friday include the £25,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.20pm, eight runners) over 12 furlongs and the £16,500 Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Race (4.30pm, seven runners) over seven furlongs.

Newbury stages the second and final day of its Dubai Duty Free Weekend on Saturday, September 22, when the highlight is the G2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (2.25pm) over six furlongs.

The going at Newbury is currently Good to Firm. There is the chance of rain later in the week.

 

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