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Mill Reef Stakes Preview – Saturday 22nd September

Last updated: September 20, 2018 by Leon Marshal

Newbury stages a good quality card on Saturday, featuring the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes for two-year-olds over six furlongs.

Notable previous winners include Irish 1000 Guineas winner Forest Flower (1986) and Champion Miler Ribchester (2015). Other notable winners include Magic Of Life (1987), Primo Valentino (1999), Dark Angel (2007) and Harry Angel (2016). Last year the race was won by James Garfield, trained by George Scott and ridden by Frankie Dettori.

A long shot of Newbury

O’Brien relies on The Irish Rover

This is one of the few two-year-old trials to have eluded Aidan O’Brien and he is represented by The Irish Rover on Saturday. He was well beaten in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot but has run creditably in three subsequent starts. The son of No Nay Never was only beaten a length when third to Advertise in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. He then finished fourth in the Gimcrack Stakes and was fifth when favourite for a valuable sales race at Doncaster last week. He looked dangerous at the furlong pole before weakening behind 33-1 winner The Great Heir.

Andrew Balding would love to win this race, named after his father’s 1971 Derby winner. His hopes rest with Shine So Bright, a colt by Oasis Dream out of a Sir Percy mare. He made a winning debut for Karl Burke at Nottingham before finishing fifth in the Coventry. The grey was transferred to Balding in July and finished a length and a quarter third to Land Force at Goodwood. He then finished third to Emaraaty Ana in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York.

Karl Burke still has a fancied runner in the race in True Mason, by top sprinter Mayson out of a Primo Dominie mare. He got off the mark at the third attempt at Nottingham in June before finishing third to Signora Cabello in a Group 2 in France. He then finished a respectable third to Pretty Pollyanna in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville.

Gosden doubly represented in Mill Reef

John Gosden is another leading trainer seeking his first win in the Mill Reef Stakes. He is represented by Kessaar and Marhaba Milliar. Kessaar was a comfortable winner of the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last time out. His form has been patchy, finishing nearer last than first at Royal Ascot before winning at Windsor by ten lengths. He wore a hood that day but missed the break next time when only sixth at Ripon.

Mark Johnston’s Marie’s Diamond finished a close second to Land Force in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. He was unable to reproduce that form when trailing the tails behind Pretty Pollyanna in France and looks well held by True Mason on that evidence.

The dark horse of the race could be Jeremy Noseda’s Garrus, a winner at Newmarket and Newcastle last month. He was never off the bridle to beat My Boy Lewis last time and is certainly entitled to take his chance at this level.

Horses racing to the finish line at Newbury

Betting Tips

True Mason @4-1 bet365

Each-way 1/5 odds, 1,2,3

The Mill Reef Stakes is due off at 2.55 at Newbury on Saturday 22nd September and will be televised live on ITV4.