DAVID JUNIOR nailed the lie that last year’s Emirates Airline Champion Stakes win was a fluke by drawing three and a half lengths clear of a class field to land the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free.His first prize of £1,744,186 is the richest won by any British-trained horse in racing history, beating the £1,290,418 won by Alkaased in the Japan Cup last November. This was also the first victory for trainer Brian Meehan since his move to Man-ton. Jamie Spencer, on his only ride of the star-studded night, was so surprised to be going easily soon after the turn that he feared he would cruise to the front too soon, after stalking the
leaders. The champion jockey left his final charge until a furlong and a half out, but once he eased past a resolute The Tin Man, the game was up.
Ice-cool Spencer confessed to a bout of butterflies on Friday night. “I was going over the race in my mind, and this is a big stage where you always want to do well,” he explained. “But it all worked out as Brian said it would.”
The ‘Brian’ in question arrived in Dubai only on Wednesday and handed much of the credit to his “fabulous team”, headed by assistant trainer Jane Alli-
Delighted trainer Brian Meehan (right) with Jamie Spencer and David Junior son and groom Shaun Harrison, who took over briefly from David Junior’s regular but unavoidably absentee handler Victor Ivanchuk.
Meehan had exuded faith in David Junior for weeks, and said: “He’s been coming good since the Select Stakes at Goodwood last September, which wasn’t an easy race for him tactically There has been natural maturity since the Champion Stakes, and he’s grown up mentally.”According to winning owner David Sullivan, who numbered the colt’s eight-year-old namesake among his joyful party, David Junior will perm two from three – the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Prince of Wales’s Stakes and Coral-Eclipse Stakes – for his next races.”He’s the best horse I’ve had by a long, long way, and that’s after 32 years in racing,” said Sullivan, who added that David Junior had taken top billing in the familiar Roldvale colours from Risk Me, twice a Group 1 winner in France but never in England.
“I turned down a monstrous offer for this horse in the winter, but I’ve always dreamed of winning races like this and now my dreams have come true.”Sullivan, who will stay in Dubai for a short holiday, missing another important sporting event in Manchester today, was experiencing one of the highs of international horseracing after the devastating low of a 7-0 FA Cup defeat for relegation-threatened Birmingham City, whom he part owns, at the hands of Liverpool last week.”I’ve made my feelings known about that in England,” he said, “and though I know it’s a terrible thing to say, if I could give this up to avoid the drop, I would.”David Junior was the high point of a successful night for bloodstock agent Richard Gilpin. He bought the colt for $175,000 at the Calder two-year-old sale, and was also responsible for the purchase of Dubai World Cup and Godolphin Mile thirds Wilko and Jack Sullivan, and Golden Shaheen fifth Gaff.