Arc Contender Mubtaker Returns to Win Freer

Seven-year-old Mubtaker, second in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (F-I) and on the sidelines since then, returned Saturday to win the Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Eng-II) for the third time at Newbury.

The Warren W. Ropsenthal-bred chestnut horse by Silver Hawk showed some rust while defeating three rivals, but put himself right back into the Arc picture this year. Mubtaker is Timeform rated at 132, behind only Doyen among Europeans.

Mubtaker was keen early while racing in second, went to the lead with two furlongs to go and finished strongly for Richard Hills to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Dubai Success. The time was 2:50.69 for the about 1 5/8-mile distance on good going.

Trained by Marcus Tregoning for owner Hamdan al Maktoum, Mubtaker was the 3-10 choice. Compton Bolter finished third, 4 1/4 lengths behind the winner. The Great Gatsby was last.

"He was getting a bit tired in the last furlong," Tregoning told Racing Post. "He was keen early on. That's why we put the noseband on this time, to give him every assistance. He won't wear that next time. He was a bit fresh today.

"I've never traineda horse as consistent as him. With all the things that have gone wrong with him he gives you 100 percent every time. If they all had his heart you wouldn't have a worry."

Richard Hills admitted that he thought Mubtaker might not be at top fitness, but it didn't turn out that way.

"He pulled quite a bit down the far side, and was delighted to be back on the racecourse. He felt as good as ever."

Cheveley Park's 4-year-old filly Chic won the Stan James Hungerford Stakes (Eng-III) earlier on the Newbury card. Ridden by Kieren Fallon for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, the daughter of Machiavellian finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Suggestive. Rum Shot was third.