Mister Sketch to kick off Wathnan career in Mill Reef

By Sports Desk September 19, 2023

Mister Sketch will be sporting the colours of Wathnan Racing when he returns to Newbury for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.

The Eve Johnson Houghton-trained youngster – who is one of 14 confirmed for the Group Two event – was narrowly beaten at the Berkshire track on debut in July before setting the record straight in style at Salisbury last month.

There the strapping son of Territories romped to an emphatic nine-and-a-half-length success which alerted his new ownership team to his potential and they are excited to see him take the leap into deeper waters when he wears their silks for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

“The team is very excited to have one with Eve,” said Richard Brown, racing adviser to the owners.

“He’s a lovely, big horse and I was really taken with him when I went to see him and we’re looking forward to seeing him run in the Mill Reef.

“He’s a big lad and whatever he does this year, I’ll be really surprised if he doesn’t do better next year.”

The Qatar-based ownership enterprise have another smart two-year-old on their hands in Richard Fahey’s Native American, who has impressed in two unbeaten performances so far, and was last seen scooping a valuable sales race at the Curragh earlier this month.

He has a plethora of big-race options both at home and abroad for the autumn with connections keen to test the son of Sioux Nation in Pattern company in his next start.

But with the feedback from jockey Colin Keane indicating Native American would prefer a sounder surface, all options remain on the table for now, with his next outing set to be determined by the weather forecast.

“Richard was keen to take him over there for the experience – travelling overnight and all those things that go with it,” continued Brown, reflecting on Native American’s successful raid to Ireland.

“We were delighted he won and hopefully we can build from here, but Colin said he did not enjoy the ground and I think we’ll be avoiding soft and/or tacky ground, from now on.

“I suppose we just we have to be on weather watch now for the autumn targets and we would be keen to avoid soft ground.

“He’s a big horse and he’s got all the scope to be a better horse next year. We’re obviously keen to run him again, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he didn’t run until next year.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to find somewhere with decent ground before the end of the season to drop him in at stakes level.”

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