Full race preview and free betting tips for the 3.05 Dubai Duty Free Conditions Stakes at Newbury.
An interesting conditions race catches the eye on Friday at Newbury with seven runners contesting this year’s renewal of the Dubai Duty Free World Cup EBF Conditions Stakes. This 10 furlong 3 year-old contest was won last year by Contributor and was also claimed by Light Shift before she went on to win the Oaks.
The card is headed by the first of the two Andrew Balding runners – Scotland (9/4 Coral). Partnered by Jim Crowley, this one-time winner is the highest rated runner in the field on a mark of 96. Scotland shaped well on his first start at Sandown before improving for the extra furlong when claiming a victory at Epsom in a similar event over 1m1f. Despite receiving weight from the second that day, he put in a gallant performance when you factor in his inexperience. He looked like he would improve again with a further step-up in trip and could well be ideally suited by both 1m2f and the flat galloping nature of Newbury. Balding has always thought this horse likely to improve as a 3 year-old and its worth noting that he has an early entry in the Dante and the Irish Derby.
Another interesting runner is Snow Sky (4/1 SkyBet) who represents Sir Michael Stoute. This horse was progressive, if a little disappointing, last year as he performed well in two late season maidens on good to firm ground before shedding that tag at Salisbury on heavy ground in impressive fashion. He was then thrown in at the deep end in the Racing Post Trophy and was unable to challenge for the victory, finishing some twelve lengths behind Kingston Hill. Now stepped down in class, this is another key runner who has an entry in the Dante, as well as the Derby.
The horse on the top of the shortlist however is WESTERN HYMN (7/4 Coral). He started his racing career in a Class 5 Kempton maiden in only December of last year but left an immediate lasting impression. With plenty of his relatives performing well on the all-weather it was no real surprise to see him follow suit on the surface but, it was somewhat of a surprise in the manner in which he claimed the victory. After begin settled at the rear off a steady pace he was positioned on the outside in the home straight and with a modicum of encouragement he soon powered clear looking for all the world that the 1m trip was his minimum. The step up to 1m2f should play massively to his strengths and he could well develop into a strong outsider for this year’s Derby.
Others to note include Double Bluff (14/1 SkyBet). This horse finished second behind the useful Pupil on his first start before going on to win his next maiden at Goodwood over 1m1f. On his next start he was sent over to France for a Group 3 and looked to be inconvenienced by the soft ground. He could well continue to improve back on a sounder surface and over a longer trip (dam was related to Double Trigger and Double Eclipse).
This race always throws up good horses to follow for the rest of the season and this year’s renewal is no different. Both Snow Sky and Scotland look good young prospects but WESTERN HYMN really appeals. This horse has the potential to find further improvement on his second career start and should relish the step-up in trip. The manner in which he moved clear of his rivals on his first visit to a racecourse was mightily impressive and a repeat victory could well see him enter contention for the Investec Derby. Furthermore, as is the way at the start of every season, fitness is always a concern, yet John Gosden looks to have his horses primed for their first runs. After a treble at Nottingham on Wednesday (which included two 3 year-old winners) Western Hymn could well keep the stable form going strong.
WESTERN HYMN (WIN) (7/4 Coral)
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