After a scintillating weekend at Longchamp, attention for Flat racing fans now turns to Newmarket and the Dubai Future Champions Festival.
The inaugural event is staged over two days, and with over £2million in prize money is sure to attract high-class juveniles from the most powerful yards. On Friday the feature event is the £500,000 Dubai Fillies’ Mile, one of the most valuable Group 1 two-year-old contests in Europe.
On Saturday the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes could prove one of the most exciting juvenile contests of the season, with Godolphin’s undefeated Emotionless set to clash with Ballydoyle’s leading two-year-old Air Force Blue.
O’Brien’s colt was mightily impressive last time at the Curragh when cruising to a comfortable win in the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes. Emotionless left a similar impression when sauntering to a wide margin victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
Yet it is Jim Bolger who has the outstanding recent record in the Dewhurst, with five wins from the last nine renewals. Teofilo, New Approach and Dawn Approach were among those high-class winners. The victor on Saturday is sure to become a short-priced favourite for next year’s Guineas.
Also on Saturday’s card is one of the most prestigious handicaps of the season, the Betfred Cesarewitch. Often billed as a clash between Flat and National Hunt horses, the 2m2f contest has gone to a number of Jump racing’s finest trainers in recent times.
Philip Hobbs took the prize last year, when his Big Easy won in the hands of Tom Queally. Hobbs had won the race in 2006 with the wonderful grey Detroit City. Nicky Henderson has also found success, with Caracciola in 2008 and with Landing Light in 2003. The former won at the grand old age of 11.
Martin Pipe was another to score twice in the Cesarewitch, back in 2000 and 2002. And not to be outdone, an Irish Jump racing legend, none other than Tony Martin, sent Leg Spinner across the Irish Sea to take the prize in 2007. The Irishman is set to send Quick Jack over at the weekend in an attempt to add to that lone success. The six-year-old came third in last year’s race, and will be ridden by Ryan Moore.
Another trainer more commonly known for his horses exploits over the obstacles is Alan King. He’s sent out a fair few winners this summer on the flat and could be double-handed on Saturday. Grumeti was a top-class juvenile over hurdles, but the seven-year-old has only shown flashes of his best form in recent years.
First Mohican could be a more interesting contender. He ran well at Goodwood a couple of weeks back, though this trip is sure to test his stamina to the limit. He does have a touch of class, and will be ridden by last year’s Cesarewitch winner Tom Queally.
It’s set to be a wonderful two days of top-class racing, with an exciting mix of equine youth and experience set to ‘tickle the fancy’ of an expectant Flat racing fraternity.