Mill Reef Stakes Betting

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The 1971 Epsom Derby winner and European Horse of the Year, Mill Reef, won twelve times and came in second twice in a career spanning 14 outings. The great bay stallion was trained at Kingsclere, just a few miles from Newbury, so it comes as no surprise that one of seasonís most anticipated events here is named after him.

The Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes is contested on the second day of the annual Dubai Duty Free International Weekend in September. It is the highlight among seven afternoon races held on that day, joined by the Group 3 Arc Trial. Apart from horse racing, the weekend features sporting master classes, trick shot shows, live music, a face painter and a bouncy castle for the children, making it a festive fall fixture for the entire family.

The £80,000 Mill Reef Stakes covers a distance of six furlongs and eight yards on the straight turf of the Newbury Racecourse. Entry is open exclusively to two-year-olds, each of which carried a weight of nine stone one pound. Fillies and mares receive an allowance of three pounds, and there is a penalty of three pounds for any previous Group 1 or Group 2 winners.

Before this event was inaugurated in 1972, a similar race for two-year-olds was run here called the Crookham Stakes. Named after the village of Crookham, it was held without interruption from 1960 to 1971 and is considered by many to be of direct lineage to this race.

Only three sponsors have been involved in the history of the Mill Reef Stakes. The earliest was Rokeby Farms, who backed the event until 1994. For the next three years, BonusPrint was assumed the role, and then there was no sponsor until Dubai Duty Free, the current one, took up the title in 2000.

The winner of the very first Mill Reef Stakes was Mon Fils, trained by Richard Hannon, who took her to the 2,000 Guineas in 1973 and won the mile-long event at odds of 50/1. Horses that do well here sometimes go on to victory in the Middle Park Stakes, too, as did Primo Valentino winning both in 1999 and Dark Angel doing the same in 2007.

Over the years, one jockey has amassed five wins in the Mill Reef Stakes. Thatís Pat Eddery, who won first with Habat in 1973, and then followed up with victories aboard Red Cross in 1974, Formidable in 1977, Lord Seymour in 1979 and Magic of Life in 1987.

Among trainers, Richard Hannon set the bar high with Mon Fils and subsequently succeeded with Showbrook in 1991, Galeota in 2004 and Cool Creek in 2005, for four wins in total. Meanwhile, Peter Walwyn was schooling four Mill Reef Stakes victors of his own: first Habat and then Red Cross in 1974, Formidable in 1977, and Luqman in 1985.

Since the turn of the new millennium, the field for the Mill Reef Stakes has varied considerably, from as few as six starters to as many as thirteen. Bouncing Bowdler opened the decade by pleasing the punters with a 10/1 payout in 2000. In 2008, Lord Shanakill reprised the double-digit victory, also coming home at 10/1.

Thatís not to say long-shots have an advantage here. Three times in the past ten years the favourite has triumphed. The French-trained Zafeen paid 8/11 in 2002, Irish-bred Cool Creek delivered at 5/1 odds in 2005, and Dark Angel was worth 9/4 when finishing first in 2007. Handicappers might be well advised to consider Trifecta and Perfecta combinations in order to claim enhanced payouts in the Mill Reef Stakes.

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