Racing: Smart is sure his colt has class for Mill Reef Stakes

The most valuable race in Britain this week is at Ayr but the most informative contests are likely to be at Newbury. By this stage of the season the markets for next year's Classics are active and the focus on the youngest generation of racehorses is intensifying.

The most valuable race in Britain this week is at Ayr but the most informative contests are likely to be at Newbury. By this stage of the season the markets for next year's Classics are active and the focus on the youngest generation of racehorses is intensifying.

The running of £100,000 Ayr Gold Cup, a 28-runner sprint handicap, may bate punters' breath for a little over a minute on Saturday but longer-term dreams will begin to unfold further south on Friday with the running of two juvenile events, the Mill Reef Stakes over six furlongs and the Haynes, Hanson And Clark Conditions Stakes over a mile.

The Mill Reef Stakes was founded in 1972, the year after the eponymous champion paid his sole visit to the Berkshire track to win the Greenham Stakes. Those closest to Mill Reef always considered him something to brighten the morning and when Bryan Smart looks at his charge Monsieur Bond he can relate to those sentiments.

No-one is saying that Monsieur Bond is as good as the horse whose European record of six consecutive Group 1 races fell only ten days ago but Smart feels he is perfectly entitled to his place in Group 2 company against the might of the major players.

The Danehill Dancer colt, a 46,000 guineas yearling purchase, has won two of his four races. Smart considers it should be three; after traffic problems under Jamie Spencer in his most recent outing, the St Leger Yearling Stakes at Doncaster a week ago, Monsieur Bond was beaten a shade over a length into fifth.

"They said he was arguably unlucky, but there was no arguably about it," said the Upper Lambourn trainer. "He was stopped three times. It was one of those split-second things; if Jamie had gone one way and not the other he would have had a clear run. The second horse had won the July Stakes and it was a group race in all but name. I was gutted."

Smart took a deep breath when he saw some of Friday's other entries [there are eight still in the race from Ballydoyle, though neither of David Loder's pair, Country Reel and Meilland, are likely to run] but stands by Reg Bond's colt.

"I haven't had one like him since Sil Sila [winner of the French Oaks six years ago]. He is a lovely horse, full of class, and there is a lot more to come. In fact, after the Doncaster race I took the 66-1 about the 2,000 Guineas." Mill Reef famously did not win the Newmarket Classic and only the inaugural winner of 'his' race, Mon Fils, went on to succeed where he failed, at 50-1. In fact, for a contest so nobly named, it has been something of a disappointment in highlighting talent, with only seven others emerging from its ranks to score at the top level in their second season, most recently Observatory, last of four three years ago.

A more reliable pointer is the race that follows it on the card, now in its 24th year. The first running went to subsequent Derby winner Henbit, followed 12 months later by Shergar. Since then the roll of honour from those who won, were placed or just took part has been the Group 1 performers Rainbow Quest, Sharastani, Unfuwain, Snurge, White Muzzle, King's Theatre, Daliapour, Millenary and, two years ago, Nayef.

Marcus Tregoning, trainer of the last-named, has a credible candidate lined up this time round, too, the twice-raced Albareq, who will be tackling the distance for the first time. A decision about the son of Kingmambo's definite participation will be made this morning, but his trainer said: "I feel he's ready to go and a mile should be all right for him. We've had some coughing but he is one who has stayed healthy all the way through."

One of Albareq's rivals, Dhabyan is, like Monsieur Bond, a horse with a point to prove after an unlucky run last time. The Silver Hawk colt, trained by Ben Hanbury, finished like a train when less than a length third in the Solario Stakes at Sandown last month, and, if his work on the Newmarket gallops yesterday is a guide, will take a deal of beating on his recovery mission.

Ambition, though, is the preserve of all and two horses from smaller yards due to try their luck are dual winner Mysterinch, from Nick Littmoden's Newmarket stable, and Snow's Ride, trained by William Muir in Lambourn. Snow's Ride, third on his sole appearance, holds an entry in next year's Derby. "He's definitely a horse with a future," said Muir, "and whatever he might do this year will be counted a bonus."

* The West Ilsley trainer Mick Channon celebrated his first domestic century of winners yesterday after Najeebon won at Yarmouth. Channon said: "I'm looking forward to running Zafeen in the Mill Reef Stakes on Friday at Newbury and we've got three live candidates for the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday in Budelli, Kulachi and Pic Up Sticks."

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all