DAVID Griffiths is praying the rain stays away from Newbury as his veteran sprinter Take Cover prepares for what could be his swansong in today’s Dubai International Airport World Trophy.
The 11-year-old has been a magnificent servant to his connections over the years, with two triumphs in the King George Stakes at Goodwood and victory in this Group Three contest 12 months ago featuring among 15 career wins.
Despite his advancing years, Take Cover – owned by Norcorft Park Stud and the mount of Fran Berry today – is enjoying another fine campaign, chasing home Battaash when bidding for a King George hat-trick before successfully defending his crown in the Beverley Bullet last month.
He was far from disgraced when fifth behind Karl Burke’s Havana Grey in the Flying Five at the Curragh last Sunday, and Griffiths feels he could go out in a blaze of glory just six days later – provided conditions are in his favour.
He said: “He came back from Ireland fresh and well and he ran a great race over there on ground that was softer than ideal. He was only beaten a length and a half in a Group One, so it was a cracking effort.
“The only thing that went against him was the ground. Fingers crossed it stays dry at Newbury. I think they’re saying the ground is on the soft side of good now and if it goes soft we might not run him, but we’ll see.
“If he does run, I think it will probably be his last run of the season. Whether he comes back next year, it’s too early to say, but it could well be his last run.”
Asked whether it could be an emotional afternoon, the Bawtry-based trainer added: “It could be, definitely. It would obviously be great if he can go out with a win. He’s been an amazing horse for us and if it’s good ground, I think we’ll go there pretty confident about his chances.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Flying Five third Sioux Nation and John Quinn’s improving sprinter El Astronaute, victorious at York’s Ebor festival, also feature in a 13-strong field.
Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s True Mason heads nine exciting contenders for the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
This six-furlong race, which celebrates the equine exploits of the legendary Mill Reef, has launched the careers of several stars in recent years, most notably Richard Fahey’s Ribchester.
True Mason – the mount of Ben Curtis – has already acquitted himself well at the top level, having finished third behind crack fillies Pretty Pollyanna and John Quinn’s Royal Ascot winner Signora Cabello in the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville.
Marie’s Diamond, trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston, has the chance to bounce back after failing to give his true running in the Prix Morny when trailing home last of the nine runners.
The Footstepsinthesand colt, who will be ridden by champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa, had previously looked on an upward curve, landing the Group Three Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh before finishing second in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.