Wings Of War prevails in Mill Reef battle

Wings Of War emulated his sire Dark Angel by flying home late to win the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.

Dark Angel is now enjoying an illustrious career at stud having retired at the end of his juvenile campaign, producing the likes of Battaash, Harry Angel and Mecca’s Angel, and Clive Cox will be hoping there is plenty more to come from his latest star.

Cox excels with speedsters, having had the likes of Lethal Force, the aforementioned Harry Angel and Supremacy through his hands in recent seasons, and in Wings Of War he looks to have another legitimate contender for top sprinting honours.

A winner at Nottingham in July, he then went close in a valuable sales race at York behind Ever Given but most recently he was a beaten favourite in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton.

He looked to have plenty on his plate with a furlong to run, too, as Hugo Palmer’s Hierarchy, supplemented for the race on Monday, shot clear under Oisin Murphy.

Derby-winning jockey Adam Kirby clicked into overdrive and began to get a good tune out of his mount and then it became a question of whether the line would come too soon.

To the delight of his connections, Wings Of War (17-2) just managed to prevail by a head, with a length and a half back to Fearby in third.

Cox won the Mill Reef back in 2016 with Harry Angel and was bagging a second nice juvenile prize in two weeks after winning the Flying Childers at Doncaster with Caturra.

“We’ve loved him from the start, but they’ve got to go and do that for you,” said Cox.

“He showed a bit of greenness in his last couple of starts but Adam gave him a good ride today.

“He was good and he was ready for this sort of test today. I just hope and pray he turns out as good as the last winner of this race we had in Harry Angel.

“I’m not sure what we’ll do next, I’ll discuss it with (owner) Sheikh Isa and we’ll do what’s best for the horse. I’m not sure if he’d benefit from another run this year or whether we’ll be looking towards next year.”

He went on: “He’s got a bit of scope and maturity to develop into. He’s always given us plenty of confidence at home that he was a proper horse.

“It’s been a wonderful week, winning the Flying Childers last week and the Mill Reef today, it’s very special.

“I’m delighted for connections and we’ve got a proper horse for next year over six furlongs. I think that’s what he is, I don’t think we need to explore over further, why do we need to, we’ve just won a Group Two.

“Mentally there’s scope for him to improve so there’s the potential for more. He was even on edge when he got here today as there’s a bit going on, more than he’s used to, but as the day has gone on he’s got more at ease and put in a performance to be proud of.”

Paddy Power make Wings Of War a 14-1 chance for next year’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

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