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Dubai Sun Provides Success For Johnston

Dubai Duty Free officials headed by Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman, Salah Tahlak, Senior Vice President-Corporate Communications and Sinead El Sibai, Vice President-Marketing awarding the trophy to Ahmad Alkhallafi for “Maureen’ winning the £60,000 Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes

A winter in Dubai is the formula for success. That’s Mark Johnston’s view for though his horses did not set the Dubai Festival alight they cannot stop winning since their return to Britain.
Johnston’s Universal, owned by Abdulla Al Mansoori, proved the point with victory in the GBP 60,000 Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at the Racecourse Newbury, UK on the second day of the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored spring trials meeting.

April 28, 2013 8:42 by



A winter in Dubai is the formula for success. That’s Mark Johnston’s view for though his horses did not set the Dubai Festival alight they cannot stop winning since their return to Britain. Johnston’s Universal, owned by Abdulla Al Mansoori, proved the point with victory in the GBP 60,000 Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at the Racecourse Newbury, UK on the second day of the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored spring trials meeting.

Johnston said, “The horses seem to benefit from their time in the Dubai sun. They run there twice and cover expenses and then start doing the business back home, a winning formula.”

The Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes produced an epic finish with Universal holding on in a three-way photo with Quiz Mistress and the favourite Noble Mission. Noble Mission is Frankel’s brother and whilst not as good as the world’s most famous racehorse – now retired to stud – Noble Mission is a pretty good yardstick having won previously at Group level. This was Universal’s first success at the highest level.

His future options include the Jockey Club Cup at Newmarket and the American St Leger at Arlington Park, Chicago, USA. The Dubai Duty Free team headed by Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman, Salah Tahlak, Senior Vice President-Corporate Communications and Sinead El Sibai, Vice President-Marketing were present at Newbury and distributed the prizes of the four races that Dubai Duty Free sponsored, to the winners. The opening GBP 8,000 Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap went to an outsider, Take Two winner of both his races since moving to Alex Hales who concentrates on the jumping game and trains very few Flat horses.

At the other end of the scale Richard Hannon has approaching 300 horses at his command and Olympic Glory, took the first of the day’s classic trials, the Greenham Stakes, for his Emirates owner H.E. Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani. Olympic Glory will now contest the French Guineas but Maureen, Hannon’s winner of the fillies’ 1,000 Guineas classic trial, the £60,000 Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes will go to Newmarket with every chance. Maureen, a tiny filly, battled on to overtake unbeaten Rosdhu Queen and then rebuff the challenge of Agent Allison.

Her odds were halved to around 12-1 for the Guineas and her Dubai-based owner Mr Ahmad Alkhallafi, a businessman in hi-tech, has a highly regarded filly. The GBP 8,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes has been the launch pad for many good performers including former champion miler Rakti. Her Majesty The Queen had two runners in the race but 2,000 Guineas entry Kyllachy Rise went off market leader.

He ran well to finish second, no match for Cape Peron who overcame the favourite to win in some style. Of course the performance wasn’t in quite the same class as that of Maureen or Olympic Glory but it was a very satisfactory starting point to the colt’s three-year-old career.

The youthful first-time owner Ahmad Alkhallafi had said in victory celebration: “I love this noble sport, as we all do in Dubai” – a thought echoed by Cape Peron’s 76-year-old owner-breeder, the eighth Earl Cadogan. We must never lose sight of the fact that the sport encompasses all countries and all ages.



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