Who will win this year's Mill Reef Stakes?

Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes preview: Horse-by-horse guide

Check out our horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.

HAATEM (Richard Hannon)

Had seven starts already, peaking when beating subsequent Doncaster winner Iberian in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. Probably best to ignore his last run when kicked into touch by Lake Forest et al in the Gimcrack as clearly not his true form.

LAKE FOREST (William Haggas)

Bounced back from odds-on defeat at Newmarket to spring a 16/1 surprise in the Gimcrack at York. That form probably not the strongest for Group 2 level but he’s clearly smart on a going day and could progress again granted a sound surface (far from certain).

Lake Forest (left) springs a surprise in the Gimcrack
Lake Forest (left) won the Gimcrack at the Ebor Festival

ARRAY (Andrew Balding)

Looked a useful prospect when off the mark at third time of asking in a Newmarket novice and took another small step forward, in spite of defeat, when close third in Group 3 at Kempton last time. Dam is a half-sister to Frankel so no surprise if there’s another chunk of improvement still to come.

EBEN SHADDAD (John & Thady Gosden)

Dewhurst entry and supplemented for this on Monday, having won by the best part of four lengths on his debut at Newmarket (good to firm) towards the end of August. Was his powerful yard’s first juvenile winner on the turf all season and looks to have a proper future. Question marks over ability to handle softer ground if it gets testing on Saturday.

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Building a very nice profile prior to first shot at Group 1 level in France last month, struggling to lay a glove on Vandeek in the Prix Morny. This could be more his level for now, he has plenty of experience and will handle any ground too which is a boost.

HALA EMARAATY (Alice Haynes)

Won a Ripon maiden on debut before following up under a penalty in Redcar novice but appears to have had his limitations exposed since then, not entirely disgraced when fifth behind Lake Forest at York but taking a backwards step at Kempton last time. Rated 93 and not up to this level.

MATTERS MOST (Ralph Beckett)

Beaten a long way by Elite Status at Sandown in May but, following two months off the track, has resumed an improved colt. Won a Windsor nursery before shaping well behind the highly-regarded Task Force in a Listed race at Ripon last month. New mark of 95 looks justified and he could have a bit more to offer. Also proved with some cut in the ground.

MISTER SKETCH (Eve Johnson Houghton)

Son of Territories who built on promising debut second to win an admittedly moderate Salisbury novice by nine and a half lengths last month (replay below). Impossible not to be impressed by the visual impression he left there, despite hanging when first put under pressure. Plenty of size and scope to improve and no surprise if he loves plenty of give in the ground given his pedigree. Bought by Wathnan Racing since last run.

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RED ZONE HERO (Michael Bell)

Starspangledbanner colt who has won both starts on soft ground to this point, including Friday’s clear-cut nursery success at Doncaster. Supplemented into this so connections happy to roll the dice and clearly arrives at the top of his game.


Showed a few signs of inexperience when third on debut at this track in June and he’s since been gelded which suggests he’s probably not been the easiest to train. Lacking in many departments if asked to line up here and can only be watched for now.


Barely put a foot wrong in seven start to this point, winning a trio of races and only once finishing outside the first three. Narrow Group 3 defeat in Kempton’s Sirenia Stakes last time arguably wants marking up given he was drawn widest of all in stall nine and, given he’s proven on quick and slow turf as well, there’s every reason to expect another solid display despite moving up in grade again.

SKETCH (Freddie & Martyne Meade)

Won by five lengths on his debut here in July but recoiled rather when thrown in at the deep end against Vandeek in Goodwood’s Richmond Stakes. Back on track with a respectable York third dropped to the minimum trip last time out but needs to take his form up a notch to be winning this and he’d look vulnerable if the ground was soft too.

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SPANISH PHOENIX (Andrew Balding)

Earned himself a trip to Royal Ascot with a wide-margin Leicester maiden win in the spring but form has tailed off since finishing eighth to River Tiber in the Coventry Stakes. Granted, he’s been set some stiff tasks at Newmarket and Goodwood but this won’t be much easier and far from convinced a drop back from seven furlongs will be the answer.

SERENE SERAPH (Richard Hannon)

Blue Point filly who has shown a solid level of form in two starts, finishing third first time out at Doncaster in June and second at Salisbury earlier this month. She travelled like a dream for a long way that day before just being overhauled in the last furlong so perhaps the run was needed following 96 days off the track. Definitely one to keep on side but this looks a tall order.


Lake Forest and Elite Status bring the best pieces of form to the table but there are some interesting lurkers in here, not least Eben Shaddad, who is a fascinating addition to the race. However, he went very nicely across the quick ground when winning at Newmarket last month and a slower surface here could blunt his speed.

Matters Most bumped into one (Task Force) at Ripon and definitely has more to offer this year and beyond but MISTER SKETCH looks a big unit with a serious future.

He's been snapped up by Wathnan Racing since winning by nine and a half lengths at Salisbury last month and given the impression he made there, it wouldn't be a surprise if the son of Territories makes up into a Group-race performer at the first time of asking.

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