July Stakes & Princess of Wales’s Odds & Picks

The July meeting on Newmarket track features three days of high-quality competition, with the headline act on the first day being Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Yibir, on a recovery mission in the G2 Princess of Wales’s. Royal Ascot two-year-old form is put to the test in the G2 July Stakes, while promising stayers Masekela and Zechariah go head to head in the G3 Bahrain Trophy.

Princess of Wales’s Stakes

Group 2, £115,000, 1m 4f turf, 3yo+

The Princess of Wales’s, the centrepiece of the opening day of Newmarket’s July meeting on Thursday, offers an opportunity for Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Yibir to get back in the groove after a couple of lacklustre efforts.

The strong-running gelding hasn’t won since Del Mar, although his performance when beaten a neck in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March was on a par with his BC Turf victory. Since then, though, he has lacked any kind of zip in the closing stages of his races, first in the G2 Jockey Club at Newmarket and then in the G1 Man o’War at Belmont Park in May, although the cutback to a mile and three-eighths was against him there.

Today’s fast ground will suit Yibir and he’s coming off a seven-week break, which will have freshened him up for what represents class relief. Doubts remain, and in a short field he could be compromised by a slow pace, but he still has a class edge over the opposition.

His only serious rival is the progressive Mostahdaf, who appeared to handle the distance when stretching out to a mile and a half for the first time in the G2 Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, when he was clear second-best behind Broome although never close enough to challenge the trailblazing winner. A distant last of seven that day was Living Legend, who beat Yibir in that G2 Jockey Club but has been running poorly since then, and nevertheless has to spot the whole field 3lb.

Mostahdaf may not be as strong a stayer as Yibir, but he comes from a yard in hot form and there is likely better to come from him. If Yibir again runs flat, Mostahdaf is in prime position to pick up the pieces.

Yibir’s barnmate Global Storm is a solid performer at a lower level but has never indicated that he could make it pay up in grade, and may be thrown in here to play the role of rabbit. West End Charmer – barnmate of Living Legend – hasn’t won since 2020 and is unproven at this distance, as is New Mandate, who has yet to recapture his fine juvenile form.

Princess of Wales’s Betting Prediction

In what appears to be a match-race, Breeders’ Cup winner YIBIR takes a drop in class and is given one more chance to rediscover his brilliant best form.

MostahdafJim Crowley+163
YibirWilliam Buick+163
Living LegendRyan Moore+1000
West End CharmerAndrea Atzeni+1200
New MandateJames Doyle+2000
Global StormFrankie Dettori+1800

July Stakes

Group 2, £100,000, 6f turf, 2yo colts/geldings

One of the oldest races in the calendar, dating back to 1786, the July Stakes has been won by two-year-old specialist Richard Hannon three times in the last eight years and he has a leading candidate in the precocious Persian Force.

The colt won the first two-year-old race of the year back in March and posted high-class form when runner-up in the six-furlong G2 Coventry at Royal Ascot, the best juvenile contest of the year so far. He didn’t finish his race off as well as before, though, and it might be the case he prefers softer going, and today’s conditions are very similar to those at Ascot.

This is a mini-reunion of Coventry runners, with Waiting All Night a longshot fifth beaten four and a quarter lengths, Harry Time eighth, two and a half lengths further back, Show Respect 11th and King’s Crown 12th. Immature two-year-olds can make sudden progression and anything is possible, but it’s tough to see any of these flipping the form with the runner-up.

The main opposition to Persian Force comes from Little Big Bear, from the all-powerful Aidan O’Brien stable, who showed plenty of speed when winning a five-furlong stakes at Royal Ascot by a neck, and the runner-up made the form look good when winning at stakes level next time out. He was runner-up – beaten a short head – over six furlongs on his debut and should appreciate stretching back out, with the uphill finish here another positive factor.

Brave Nation was badly hampered in the closing stages of the five-furlong G2 Norfolk at Royal Ascot before finishing fourth, but wasn’t in a position to win at the time. The extra yardage today could move him up, whereas Mysterious Night is cutting back slightly after winning a minor contest at Newbury over six and a half. He found that easy and may make a bold bid up in grade.

July Stakes Betting Pick

The form of the Royal Ascot race won by LITTLE BIG BEAR has been boosted by the runner-up, and the extra furlong and fast ground will suit the Irish colt.

Little Big BearRyan Moore+175
Persian ForceRossa Ryan+175
Mysterious NightWilliam Buick+650
Brave NationJames Doyle+900
Waiting All NightHollie Doyle+1600
Harry TimeLeigh Roche+2000
Show RespectSean Levey+4000
King’s CrownBarry McHugh+8000

Bahrain Trophy

Group 3, £200,000, 1m 5f turf, 3yo

Derby form comes under the microscope in the Bahrain Trophy, and with the Epsom third (G1 Irish Derby) and fifth (G2 at Royal Ascot) both winning next time out the standard is well up to scratch.

The Derby fourth Masekela ran far above his 66-1 odds on his first start beyond a mile-eighth, doing his best work late and suggesting that he would appreciate an even more searching test of stamina such as today’s contest. He was in a different league to stakes-placed Walk Of Stars, who finished last of 17 when not handling the idiosyncratic Epsom circuit, but better can be expected from the Godolphin runner today although the ground will be plenty quick enough for him.

The step up to a mile and three-quarters for the first time in the G2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot brought considerable improvement from Zechariah, who was beaten only a pixel in a photo-finish, with Al Qareem seeming not to see out the distance when a fading fourth and Green Team a never-dangerous seventh. Al Qareem figures as the pace angle here, which could again suit Zechariah.

This represents a step up in grade and distance for Deauville Legend, runner-up in a Royal Ascot handicap, and he has plenty to find on the official ratings.

Bahrain Trophy Betting Choice

A stamina test clearly brings out the best in ZECHARIAH, and he is the choice to gain deserved compensation for his very narrow defeat in a G2 at Royal Ascot.

MasekelaAndrea Atzeni+175
Walk Of StarsWilliam Buick+300
ZechariahRyan Moore+400
Al QareemClifford Lee+850
Deauville LegendDaniel Muscutt+800
Green TeamTom Marquand+5000

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