Mill Reef and the 1971 King George

26th July 2018

Resuming our series of Q & A’s with Ian Balding, our fourth blog features Mill Reef’s triumph  in Ascot’s mid-summer showpiece race, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes over 1 mile 4 furlongs.


Following Mill Reef’s Derby success the colt then had his first chance to run against older horses in the Eclipse Stakes where he beat the 1970 French 2000 Guineas winner Caro by a comfortable four lengths in a course record time.

After winning the Eclipse at Sandown on 3 July was it always your intention to run Mill Reef in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes?

Yes it was always the intention to run at Ascot which was three weeks after the Eclipse and it turned out to be the easiest race of his career.

What do you remember about Mill Reef and the 1971 King George? 

As in the Eclipse we ran our pace-maker Bright Beam again that day just to ensure they went a good gallop

Photo Must Be Credited ©Alpha Press 050000 ( 1971 ) Mill Reef riden by jockey Geoff Lewis won the 1,000 Guineas , 2,000 Guineas , Oaks ( twice ) , Coronation Cup, and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. His greatest moment came in 1971 when he rode the great Mill Reef to win the Derby.

Mill Reef hit the front about a furlong and a half from home and just seemed to go further and further in front...I think it was a record winning the time ..officially six lengths I think, but it looked more!


At the time was his victory the best of his career?  Geoff Lewis is quoted saying “Daylight was second at Ascot”

I would think that he was as well that day as any time he ever raced, although he looked pretty good in the Arc a couple of months later too!....



1st Mill Reef                                    G Lewis                           8/13 Fav

2nd Ortis                                         D Keith                            11/1

3rd Acclimatization                      J Desaint                         40/1

Won by six lengths: thirty three lengths between second and third.


Race photo courtesy of Alpha Press

Blog by Stephen Wallis, Visitor Services.