The Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes heads an entertaining card at Newmarket on Thursday. We’ve had a look at the main storylines and given our verdict below.
Shadwell & Godolphin Battle At The Top
Rarely does a six-runner contest have two such clear favourites, but both Mostahdaf and Yibir have far more outstanding credentials than their rivals.
Both are only four-year-olds, but they arrive on different trajectories. The Shadwell Estate-owned Mostahdaf has won six of his nine career starts and while he has only been second the last twice, he remains on the upgrade.
Those runner-up efforts have come behind the very useful Bay Bridge in Sandown’s Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes and then in the Hardwicke Stakes to Broome, who was given a particularly outstanding ride by Ryan Moore. This does not look as strong a contest as either of those and he appeared to stay this trip well on his first attempt at it last time.
Yibir, while being the only Group 1 winner in this field, has proven to be somewhat of an enigma. He flew home to land the Breeders’ Cup Turf last term, but despite going within a neck of following up in Dubai Sheema Classic in March, he has been bitterly disappointing the last twice.
Though he now gets a 6lb swing with Living Legend after his defeat to the Johnston runner at Newmarket in April, that race was perilously weak for the level and defeat back in the States last time will not have boosted stable confidence.
Johnston Duo Lead Dangers
The aforementioned Living Legend pulled off three successive upsets earlier this year, including overturning Yibir at odds of 1/4 in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.
That win followed successes in Listed company at Kempton and on All-Weather Championships Day at Newcastle, at which he defeated another odds-on favourite. It was quite some run of form up until the summer.
However, there has been a significant return to earth for her and connections since. He has been last in his previous two races, in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and then again in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. A 6lb swing with Yibir makes it hard enough to see him beating the Godolphin runner, let alone the rest of these. Ryan Moore replaces Joe Fanning in the saddle, but even his talent should not be enough to sway the tide.
Meanwhile, West End Charmer may be a six-year-old, but having only had nine starts prior to this season, is still extremely lightly-raced. Both efforts this season have been in Listed contests over 1m2f and though they have seen him finish second to Majestic Dawn and then fifth in the Hampton Court Stakes, it would be a shock if he suddenly won this.
Dettori And Doyle With Points To Prove
Both jockeys on the outsiders in this field will feel particularly motivated to overcome the odds here.
Frankie Dettori is aboard Ralph Beckett’s New Mandate having ridden a winner for these owners recently. With John & Thady Gosden in charge of the favourite, Dettori would likely enjoy nothing more than upsetting them.
New Mandate was never seen in the Hampton Court Stakes, but he was caught way too far back and could never have been expected to challenge from where he was. This further step up to 1m4f could suit him, but he has enough to prove on his past two efforts.
James Doyle may have won both Newmarket Classics earlier in the season, but as Godolphin’s number two, and with the Gosden job still slightly up in the air, he could yet stake a claim if riding another outsider to success.
Global Storm showed better form in Dubai earlier this year than he has ever showed on these shores. That said, his fourth in a decent York handicap last time was solid form and with neither of the Johnston horses renowned for front-running, he could get the run of the race from the front.
Last year’s winner Sir Ron Priestley enjoyed just that, so there is certainly incentive enough for him to do so. Although it may appear he is in the field for pacemaking duties, none of his rivals are the most reliable.
An on-song Yibir would be a tough opponent, but he has been disappointing the last twice and has a tendency to play up. Against him here is MOSTAHDAF, who may still be progressive, has a tremendous strike rate and should demonstrate the full extent of his abilities. Global Storm is best of the rest.