Entries for Newbury's Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes
The Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes has received 67 entries for its 2017 renewal, staged at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday, September 23, day two of the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend.
Run in honour of the great 1971 Derby winner Mill Reef, the six-furlong contest for two-year-olds boasts an outstanding roll of honour.
The last two renewals have been won by Ribchester (2015) and Harry Angel (2016). Ribchester has gone on to win three G1 contests, including the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this year.
Harry Angel, who recently captured the G1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket and is a serious contender to be crowned this season's champion sprinter, won decisively last year. His sire, Dark Angel, was successful himself in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes in 2007.
Among this year's entries for the £75,000 race are several juveniles who have already triumphed in Pattern races, including last week's G2 Richmond Stakes scorer Barraquero (Brian Meehan) and Beckford (Gordon Elliott IRE), successful in the G2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh on July 1.
Cardsharp (Mark Johnston) finished third behind Barraquero in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last week, having previously captured the G2 July Stakes at Newmarket, while Unfortunately (Karl Burke) won the G2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte on July 23.
Burke, successful in this contest with Lord Shanakill (2008) and Toocoolforschool (2014), has four entries who also include Havana Grey, winner of the G3 Molecomb Stakes over five furlongs at Goodwood last week.
The Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes is one of the few Pattern races not to have been landed by Ireland's multiple champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien. The master of Ballydoyle has seven entries in 2017, headed by Sioux Nation, last seen out when taking the G2 Norfolk Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot on June 22. Other O'Brien-trained contenders include G2 July Stakes runner-up U S Navy Flag, G3-winning filly Actress and eye-catching maiden winner Battle Of Jericho.
Newmarket handler James Tate has two entries, headed by last week's G3 Molecomb Stakes runner-up Invincible Army, and both are being considered for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.
Invincible Army had previously done all his racing over six furlongs, taking a novice contest impressively by five lengths on his second start at Newmarket in June before finishing fourth over the same course and distance in the G2 July Stakes on July 13.
Tate's other entry Hey Gaman was last of 12 in that same contest won by Cardsharp, but bounced back on softer ground with an easy five-length success over Roussel (Charlie Appleby) in a conditions race at Newmarket on July 29.
Tate said: "Fortunately, Invincible Army has come out of Goodwood really well because we don't think he likes soft ground.
"We tried him on it because at the moment there doesn't seem to be anything other than soft ground, and we thought six furlongs on testing ground would stretch his stamina.
"We were perfectly satisfied with the run but would like to think that he will be better back on fast ground over six furlongs.
"We are hoping to go to the Gimcrack next with Invincible Army granted decent ground. The timing of that race later this month fits in well.
"Hey Gaman is great after his win the other week. We think the key to him is that he likes soft ground, hence why his form is basically last, first, last, first in his last four races. If it rains, he is a very useful animal but if it does not, he is no good.
"We will have him entered in all the big races over six furlongs and seven furlongs - he has more stamina than Invincible Army - and if it rains, he will be there."
Last year's winning trainer, Lambourn-based Clive Cox, has four entries to choose from including Goodwood maiden victor Snazzy Jazzy.
The six Godolphin-owned entries include Sounds And Silence andRoussel, who were first and second in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot.
The two-day Dubai Duty Free International Weekend takes place at Newbury on Friday and Saturday, September 22 and 23.
Other highlights at the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend include the £60,000 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup over 11 furlongs, the five-furlong £65,000 Dubai International Airport World Trophy and the £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Handicap over 10 furlongs.
The next racing at Newbury Racecourse is on Friday and Saturday, August 18 and 19. Saturday, August 19 is Betfred Ladies Day, with Olly Murs playing live after racing, and admission tickets are now sold out, though restaurant bookings are still being taken.