Wings Of War flies high at Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes - GulfToday

Wings Of War flies high at Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes


Wings Of War and Adam Kirby (near-side) fend off a strong challenge from Hierarchy and Oisin Murphy to win the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Glorious sunshine greeted racegoers on the second day of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday.

Title sponsor Dubai Duty Free supported five of the eight races on the programme, with prize money totalling £ 276,500, including the day’s feature, the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes, named in honour of the locally trained 1971 Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero.

A field of ten talented two-year-olds lined up for this six-furlongs contest, which has produced some memorable finishes, and Saturday’s renewal was no exception with Wings Of War just getting up in the closing stages of the race to beat Hierarchy by a neck.

There was drama at the start when Gis A Sub became unsettled in the starting stalls and had to be withdrawn to the dismay of his many supporters.

Wings Of War was Lambourn trainer Clive Cox’s second winner of the race, following the success of Harry Angel in 2016 and the third for jockey Adam Kirby, who said, “After a furlong he was quite smooth and put his best foot forward today.” 

Hurricane Ivor took the lion’s share of the GBP 70,000 prize fund on offer for the Group 3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy, a competitive Group 3 contest, featuring several in-form sprinters, including Her Majesty The Queens King’s Lynn, who unfortunately was unable to make the frame.

A noted strong finisher, Hurricane Ivor was winning for the second time in seven days, and William Haggas was wary of running him so soon, but the Newmarket trainer need not have worried as the four-year-old came with a powerful run up the grandstand side under Tom Marquand to win by three quarters of a length.

“I thought he was quite laid-back last week, but today he was brighter,” said the trainer’s wife, Maureen, adding, “He’s a lovely, straight forward horse.”

Newbury has proved a happy hunting ground over the years for Sir Michael Stoute and the Newmarket trainer was among the winners again with Solid Stone, who after losing the lead at the half way stage of the mile and three furlongs Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup, rallied strongly to beat Foxes Tales by a neck in a stirring finish in the distinctive blue and yellow colours of Dubai businessman, Saeed Suhail.

“He goes through the gears quite gradually. He’s really game and wanted to win,” said jockey William Buick.

Mohamed Obaida, a Dubai-based property developer also struck lucky when the Charlie Fellowes-trained, Injazti made all the running to win the hugely competitive Dubai Duty Free Handicap

The lightly-raced three-year-old was given a great ride by 23-year-old Callum Sheppard, who said, “I had no real orders other than to let him jump and find his pitch. He really got his head down and punched the line pretty strong.”

The battle for the jockeys’ championship title between Oisin Murphy, who notched a treble on the opening day of the meeting, and William Buick provided another fascinating aspect to the day.
Koy Koy’s success in the second division of the novice stakes, helped Murphy maintain his nine-winner lead.

The fixture, which was broadcast live by ITV, featured a post-racing performance by 80s icon Rick Astley who was also on hand to present the trophies for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes in absence of the Dubai Duty Free Senior Management Team, unable to attend due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions.

Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin said, “Once again the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend has delivered top quality racing and first-class entertainment for the thousands of racegoers who attended the fixture.

“We are grateful to Julian Thick and his team at Newbury Racecourse for their enthusiastic promotion of our brand in our absence, and we look forward to renewing our friendships in the UK  when we return to Newbury for the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend next April.”

In addition to supporting two important and well established fixtures at Newbury this year, Dubai Duty Free continued to invest in sports sponsorship throughout 2021, despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, beginning in January with the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, won by British player Paul Casey.

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