The Dubai Future Champions Festival: A Look Ahead

October 05, 2016

- Grant Whittington

To fans of horse racing, the Dubai Future Champions Festival remains one of the highlights of the calendar. This year’s event is likely to be no exception, particularly with the prestigious Dubai Fillies’ Mile once again set to serve as the jewel in this particular crown.

Autumn Ladies Day is another particularly highlight, and one which is distinguish the launch of this annual race meeting on Friday, 7th October. A celebration of colour and noise, this is always a favourite among fans and an occasion that makes horse racing more accessible to people of all ages and preferences.

The Dubai Fillies’ Mile: A Celebration of Excellence

Friday is also the date of the Dubai Fillies’ Mile, which has enjoyed a brief and interesting history since its inception in 1973. Now contested by two-year old competitors across the testing, mile-long Newmarket course, it is a race that was originally held at Ascot and first sponsored by Green Shield. Sponsorship has been passed between stellar brands such as Hoover, Brent Walker and Shadwell since then, while this time has also seen the event evolve from Group 3 status to achieve the Group 1 level (this was confirmed in 1980).

This seminal race has been held at Newmarket since 2011, although this is the very first year in which the meeting will be hosted on the first Friday of the Future Champions Festival. We are also expected to see a record turnout for this year’s race, thanks in part to the record amount of prize money on offer and a potential winners’ cheque of £283,550. Even the competitor coming second will earn a total of £107,500, so this is certainly a lucrative opportunity for owners, jockeys and trainers alike.

In terms of history, Frankie Dettori is the event’s most successful jockey with six victories. These successes spanned 21 years between 1990 and the jockey’s most recent win in 2011, when he romped home with the talented filly Lyric of Light. From a trainer perspective, Henry Cecil has recorded the most wins with six, with his last victory coming as recently as 1996 with Reams of Verse (18 years after his initial win with Formulate in 1978).

Who will Win this years’ Race?

If we accept that the Fillies’ Mile remains the jewel in the Future Champions event, however, the only question that remains is who will win this years’ race? Certainly the Dubai Fillies’ Mile odds are relatively conservative at this time, with more than 30 runners scheduled to compete for the first place jackpot!

The Irish-bred Wild Irish Rose is thought to be one of the initial favourites, particularly with the excellent A P O’Brien training the filly. O’Brien has trained the last two winners of the Fillies’ Mile (Together Forever in 2014 and Mindling in 2015), while he also entered a staggering five runners in this year’s race.

Whatever happens, this race is likely to be keenly contested and one that does the prestigious Future Champions Festival true justice.

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