Fred Darling Stakes Betting

The Newbury Racecourse is the focus of flat-racing attention in mid-April each year, with several Group 3 races scheduled during the two-day Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Meeting. One of them is the £50,000 Fred Darling Stakes for three-year-old fillies, covering a distance of seven furlongs on the straight turf of the Newbury track.

Each of the entrants in this race carries a weight of nine stone even. There are no penalties for success in previous races, making this sprint a true test of each filly’s ability to get off to an explosive start, outpace the field and finish under full power.

When the event was first run in 1949, it was originally known as the Lambourn Stakes. In 1955, it was retitled in memory of successful trainer Fred Darling (1884–1953). The early editions were contested over seven and a half furlongs on the left-handed turn here, but since 1999 the course has been a straight seven-furlong dash.

For nearly a decade, Gainsborough Stud sponsored this race. Then Dubai Duty Free came on board as the primary backer in 1996. Three years later, they changed the name to the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, although the officially registered title has remained unchanged as the Fred Darling Stakes.

Each filly gets just a single opportunity to prevail in this event, which serves as a trial for the first fillies’ Classics of the season. In 2000, the 9/4 favourite here, Lahan, weakened in the final furlong and finished fourth, but she went on to claim 1000 Guineas a few weeks later. Another great sprinter was Culture Vulture, whose third-place finish here in 1992 led to triumph in the French 1000 Guineas (Poule d’Essai des Pouliches) in May of that year.

No fewer than four different jockeys have won the Fred Darling Stakes four times apiece. The first to do so was Jimmy Lindley, winning on Soldier’s Song in 1960, Anassa in 1962, Night Appeal in 1965 and Highest Hopes in 1970. Lester Piggott took just a little longer to get his four, riding Sijui in 1957, Royal Saint in 1967, Durtal in 1977 and Millingdale Lillie in 1980.

Immediately on their heels was Walter Swinburn, succeeding aboard Marwell in 1981, Top Socialite in 1985, Maysoon in 1986 and Sueboog in 1993. Then came Willie Carson, delivering a pair of back-to-back wins with Salsabil and Shadayid in 1990-01, followed by Bulaxie and Aqaarid in 1994-95.

Two trainers have posted six wins each in the Fred Darling Stakes. Noel Murless set the number to beat with Serocco in 1950, Refreshed in 1952, Sijui in 1957, Royal Saint in 1967, Sea Lavender in 1969 and Mysterious in 1973. John Dunlop showed that effort could be matched, supplying all four of Carson’s mounts—Salsabil, Shadayid, Bulaxie and Aqaarid—plus Iftiraas in 2000 and Muthabara in 2008.

The size of the field here can range greatly from year to year. In 1997 just seven entrants participated; in 2010 there were only eight. By contrast, in 2011 a gang of fourteen crowded the starting line, and in 2009, the number was sixteen.

Muthabara was the last favourite to win this race, paying 9/4. Majestic Roi was the last long-odds sprinter to succeeed, beating out the favoured Indian Ink by a neck in 2007 to pay 25/1.

One potential indicator of success in this event is the outcome of the previous October’s May Hill Stakes run over a mile as part of Doncaster’s St. Leger Festival. Nasheej won there in 2005 before succeeding here in 2006, and the 2009 Fred Darling Stakes winner, Lahaleeb, had finished a respectable third at Doncaster in 2008.

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