Mill Reef Stakes: Owen to score again

The Mill Reef takes place at Newbury on Saturday
The Mill Reef takes place at Newbury on Saturday

Timeform's Nic Doggett previews the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury on Saturday...

"...he's earnt another crack at a pattern race, which he should be more ready for now..."

The Owen Burrows-trained Enjazaat is an attractive colt who has - as his pedigree would suggest (first foal of a 6f winner, who in turn is out of the useful 5f/6f winner Miss Anabaa) - looked all about speed in his four races to date. He won a minor event at Yarmouth (by six lengths) in June and, after still looking to be learning the job when sixth to Cardsharp in the July Stakes, improved again after a seven-week break when winning a seven-runner listed race at Ripon last time by two lengths from subsequent winner Tip Two Win. Enjazaat showed a high cruising speed and a sharp turn of foot there, and he's earnt another crack at a pattern race, which he should be more ready for now. Cardsharp is more exposed, but bounced back from a below-par run in the Richmond at Goodwood when third to Sands of Mali in the Gimcrack at York. His 3-lb penalty makes life tough, though.

Timeform weight-adjusted ratings for Saturday's contest are topped, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Invincible Army. Since winning his maiden at Newmarket (by five lengths) in June, he has contested pattern races, finishing two and a half lengths fourth in the July Stakes, one and a quarter lengths second to Havana Grey in the Molecomb at Goodwood, before filling the same position in the Gimcrack. He improved again when finally getting a deserved victory in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last time by one and a half lengths from Corinthia Knight, soon in command on his all-weather debut after taking the lead inside the final furlong. Invincible Army is another strong traveller, though whether he will carry this improvement over to turf remains to be seen, perhaps a programme aimed at all-weather championships day at Lingfield a better one for him.

After winning his maiden at the fifth attempt at the Curragh in June, U S Navy Flag was taking small steps forward (including finishing ahead of several of these when second in the July Stakes) prior to his most recent outing, however he improved significantly when a six-length winner of the Round Tower Stakes back at the Curragh at the end of last month. This race was mentioned as the target in the aftermath of that rout, and, for all that he will stay seven furlongs in due course, this contest looks a good fit. Fellow War Front colt Declarationofpeace will likely only justify his $2,600,000 price tag if and when he goes to stud, but he took a step back in the right direction (though never landed blow) when three and a quarter lengths seventh to Sioux Nation in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last time.

James Garfield, fourth to Expert Eye in the Vintage at Goodwood, improved again when a nose second to Wells Farhh Go in the Acomb Stakes at York last time, quickening to lead entering the final furlong until headed on the post. The first two were some way clear there, though the Acomb isn't one of the juvenile Group races in Britain with a rich history of producing top-class horses - in fact in the last 10 years Dutch Connection in 2014 is the only winner who has gone on to success at a higher level and most recent winners haven't won any more pattern races at all.

Staxton, who was four and three quarter lengths fifth in the Gimcrack last time, and the Richmond runner-up Nebo, who was one place behind him there, are both respected, whilst an honourable mention also goes to Lanksy, who was third in the Acomb last time on just his second start. Preference though, at the current prices, is for the 7/1 chance Enjazaat who looks likely to be much more ready for Saturday's test than his previous start at Group 2 level.

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