Mill Reef Stakes Preview – Saturday 17th September

Last updated: September 16, 2016 by Leon Marshal

The big race at Newbury on Saturday is the £75,000 Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes for two-year-olds over six furlongs.

Mokarris in action at the Dubai Duty Free race.

Mokarris clear favourite for Mill Reef Stakes

The race is named after the popular 1971 Derby winner who was trained by Ian Balding at nearby Kingsclere. The Mill Reef Stakes has been won by some high class horses over the years including subsequent Irish 1000 Guineas winner Forest Flower, trained by Balding. Other notable winners include Formidable (1977), Magic Of Life (1987), Primo Valentino (1999) and Dark Angel (2007). Last year’s race was won by Ribchester who has since gone on to win at the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville.

The favourite this year is Mokarris, trained by Simon Crisford and ridden by Paul Hanagan. He began his career with an impressive two lengths win at Haydock and was expected to run well in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot in June. He floundered in the soft ground and trailed home well down the field.

Mokarris returned to winning ways here at Newbury in July when beating Nobly Born by two and three-quarter lengths. He was no match for Blue Point in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York next time but kept on well to finish second. That looked a particularly strong race this year and has already produced three subsequent winners in The Last Lion, Ardad and Mubtasim.

Repton drops back in trip at Newbury

Ed Dunlop’s Global Applause has been racing since making a winning debut at Newmarket in May. He looks held by Mokarris on Gimcrack form where he finished nearly two lengths behind in fourth place. He finished in the midfield in a valuable sales race at Doncaster next time and his long season could be taking its toll.

Legendary Lunch won the Listed Woodcote Stakes at the Epsom Derby meeting for Richard Hannon. He was well beaten behind Mokarris at Newbury in July but bounced back to form when second to Ardad at Doncaster. He looks held by the market leaders on that form and the Hannon stable have only managed two winners out of their last one hundred runners.

The same concerns apply to stable companion Repton who drops back in trip after fading in seven furlong contests at Goodwood and Sandown. He was prominent for a long in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood before racing far too enthusiastically at Sandown. A fast-run six furlongs could be what he needs. Clive Cox saddles the maiden Harry Angel who was beaten a nose on his racecourse debut by Reach High over five furlongs at Ascot in May.

The Mill Reef Race in full flight at Newbury.

Johnston relies on Sutter County

Mark Johnston has opted to run Sutter County in preference to Rich And Famous who had been prominent in the ante-post betting. Sutter County won by nine lengths on the all-weather at Wolverhampton in March before holding off Dream Of Dreams by a head at Newmarket the following month. He was not seen again until finishing fourth behind Big Time Baby at York and now steps up to six furlongs for the first time.

Marco Botti’s Unabated is a colt by Bated Breath out of a Selkirk mare. He ran far too freely in the Gimcrack and was virtually eased to a walk in the closing stages. He performed with credit next time when third to The Last Lion at Kempton but that form still gives him plenty to find to win this.

Medici Banchiere represents the in-form Karl Burke stable but also looks held on Gimcrack form. He was only sixth behind Blue Point and has over three lengths to make up on Mokarris. The same applies to Grey Britain who finished just ahead of him in fifth place after making the running for John Ryan.

Andrew Balding would dearly love to emulate his father by winning this race. He saddles the filly Perfect Angel who is a daughter of 2007 winner Dark Angel. She would have an each-way chance on her narrow victory over Promising at Goodwood in July but has since been well beaten in a Group 3 at Salisbury.

Mill Reef Stakes Betting Tips

The Gimcrack Stakes at York looks by far the best form on offer here and Mokarris looks a worthy favourite. The Richard Hannon-trained pair of Legendary Lunch and Repton look the most likely each-way alternatives, despite the poor recent form of the stable.

Mokarris @ Evens Ladbrokes

Repton (each-way) @16-1 Ladbrokes

The Mill Reef Stakes is due off at 2.15 on Saturday 17th September and will be screened live on More 4.