Ante-Post Value – The Princess Of Wales’s Stakes
Newmarket’s July meeting kicks off on Thursday and the feature, the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes, is the first one that we’ll take a look at. It’s a 1m 4f event dominated by Mark Johnston and, particularly, Sir Michael Stoute in the past ten years and the market thinks we’ll see that continue.
Johnston doesn’t have anything entered in the race this time around, but Stoute has got two. They are the highly progressive Arab Spring and former Group 2 winner Hillstar; the two market leaders at 7/4 & 3/1 respectively. My main objective is to get horses like those beaten given the restrictive odds (7/4 & 3’s won’t make us too rich any time soon!), but they should take the world of beating.
Arab Spring is the “sexy” horse of the race with a litter of 1’s beside his name as the 4-year-old colt is 4-4 this term and clearly coming into his own. He has won on polytrack, soft ground, good ground and good-to-firm ground, and is clearly an adaptable sort who is improving at a rapid rate.
I’m sure that he’ll be many people’s idea of bet of the meeting given his madly progressive ways and hints at being even better still, but this is going to demand more than winning a Royal Ascot handicap off 104 – for all that it’s highly creditable – and there will have to be more in the locker if he’s to beat a couple of these. I think that the ability to be better is there but you don’t know until it’s shown on the track and at 7/4, for what is his first start out of maiden/handicap company, my gut feeling is to look elsewhere… sheepishly.
Hillstar – Sir Michael Stoute’s seemingly lesser-fancied 4-year-old – is the one that I keep coming back to and this looks to be his best winning opportunity in a suitable race for quite a while. Of course, you could say that his penultimate start at Chester fits the bill (sent off 4/5 in a four-runner event) but the testing ground got the better of him and I wouldn’t place a whole lot of emphasis on that defeat. Last time out, he was a distant, 7-length second in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot. However, Telescope was the impressive winner of that race and posted a proper Group 1 performance, so it was always going to be an impossible task for Stoute’s charge to get the better of that one on the day.
He should have been closer, mind you, as Frankie Dettori rode him for luck and it wasn’t exactly forthcoming. The pair were caught on heels for a while, gave a dramatic first run to some of the others and had far too much to do in the last couple of furlongs. I thought that it was encouraging how he ran down Pether’s Moon for second place and he should have the beating of that rival if they meet again on Thursday. Whether he can find enough to get the better of Arab Spring is the million dollar question and I wouldn’t be too bullish either way to be honest, but for the sake of making a selection I’ll side with Hillstar at the prices. With a better ride than he was given at Royal Ascot, he can post an improved performance.
Selection for the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (2:40 Newmarket; Thursday, 10th July):
Hillstar – 3/1, available with Boylesports.
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