14/10/09: Trainer John Dunlop will be hoping to saddle his 250th winner at Newmarket where he has a number of fancied runners over the two-day Champions’ Meeting on Friday and Saturday.The Arundel-based trainer recorded his first winner at the track in 1966 when Tamino took the Palace House Stakes – a triumph that was also his first with a licence.
Since then he has enjoyed a number of high-profile successes on both Newmarket courses including three in the 1000 Guineas victories and two in the July Cup.
He said: “Newmarket has been lucky for me. It is always a highlight to win a Classic so our three wins in the 1000 Guineas are very special to me.
“Habibti’s win in the July Cup was a huge joy as she was only a three-year-old and we were dropping her back in trip after she hadn’t stayed in the Guineas.
“She then went on to win the Nunthorpe and the Abbaye and was a great horse.”
Although Dunlop has no representatives in either of Saturday’s Group One features, he is still hopeful of making the winner’s enclosure over the meeting.
Palavicini looks to have a leading chance in the Group Three Thurlow Nunn Standen Darley Stakes over nine furlongs on Friday.
The three-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway won at the track back in the spring and will not find the predicted fast ground any convenience for him.
Dunlop said: “We ran him after a break in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot to see if he stayed and he clearly doesn’t.
“He has won over Friday’s trip before and will be suited by the going. He’s been on the go a long time but seems in very good order.”
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Akmal also looks to have a big chance in the two-mile Group Three Jockey Club Cup on Saturday.
The son of Selkirk has won no less than six times this season including his game win in the Listed Directa Signs Noel Murless Stakes at the Cambridgeshire Meeting two weeks ago. It will be his first try in Group company but Dunlop is confident of a bold showing.
“He has been a real improver having won six times,” he said. “He has also had a lot of racing but seems well. He stays the trip and will love the ground.”
Swingkeel will bid to give Dunlop his second win in the totesport.com Cesarewitch handicap, a race he hasn’t won since Mountain Lodge landed the spoils in 1982.
Dunlop said: “He is very consistent. We wanted to give him a run before this race so we ran him in the two-mile Listed race at Ascot last month.
“Ryan Moore had never ridden him before but Swingkeel still ran a good race to finish a close third. Jimmy Fortune will be back on board on Saturday.
“I think he’ll be suited by the race as he switches off well and goes on the ground. We’ll just be hoping for a bit of luck.”
Reflecting on the meeting as a whole Dunlop added: “Champions’ Day is a great day. To me the Dewhurst is the best trial for the Guineas and the Champion Stakes has been a significant race in the calendar for a number of years and is often won by horses who go on to be good stallions.”