WINNING a Group One race as prestigious as the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs is so important when it comes to stallion value that both Highland Reel and JACK HOBBS are running here rather than waiting for the more suitable Hardwicke Stakes.
Both are better suited to the extra two furlongs of Saturday’s prize, but a top flight European victory over 10 furlongs is missing from both of their respective CVs.
With Almanzor still on the sidelines and Minding ruled out through injury, the race has lost plenty of its star quality and represents an opportunity too good to miss.
Winner of the Irish Derby and second to Golden Horn in the Investec Derby two years ago, Jack Hobbs spent most of last season nursing a pelvis injury and returned with a solid third in the Champions Stakes in October.
To be fair to John Gosden, he always promised that Jack Hobbs would get better with age and his patience looked to have been rewarded with a stunning victory when last seen in Meydan back in March.
Highland Reel was well beaten in behind that day on unsuitably rain-softened ground, but it was the manner of Jack Hobbs’ victory that really caught the eye.
Not only has he filled out beyond recognition, he travelled effortlessly throughout and quickened up nicely when asked to put the race to bed.
Neither the ground or the trip look ideal, but he may just have the class to tough it out before tackling races like the King George and the Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe.
It was no easy decision to leave Highland Reel out of my 1-2-3, particularly on his favoured fast ground with Ryan Moore set to make it a real test.
However, he looked a real stayer at Epsom last time in the Coronation Cup and he may just get run out of it late on.
Instead, I prefer the chances of French raider MEKHTAAL currently trading at four times the price of Highland Reel at around the 12/1 mark.
He disappointed twice in Group One company last season, principally when finishing midfield in the French Derby behind Almanzor.
It is interesting that connections opted to keep the son of Sea The Stars in training as a four-year-old implying that we didn’t see the best of him last campaign.
A neck second to Cloth Of Stars at Chantilly on his seasonal reappearance was followed by victory last month in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan over nine furlongs.
He had some useful types in behind that day and the runner-up Robin Of Navan won a Group Three in France last weekend.
It’s encouraging that he has run really well on the three occasions that he has encountered good ground and also that he has the speed to win over nine furlongs but the necessary stamina to stay that little bit further.
Strictly on the formbook he has a fair bit to do to trouble the big two at the top of the market.
That said, they may not be able to match his speed and he’s
is simply too big a price to ignore.
If there is a dark horse in the race its Sir Michael Stoute’s Ulysses who won the second Group Three of his career at Sandown back in April.
He has loads of potential, but is priced up on what he might achieve rather than on what he has achieved.
At 7/2, I’m prepared to leave him out of the reckoning.
My final podium place goes to DECORATED KNIGHT who looks overpriced at 10/1 considering he has won four of his last five races and two at Group One level.
Again, the trip and ground look perfect and he is one to keep on side while he continues to improve.
Queen’s Trust looked badly in need of the run when finishing last at York on her reappearance and is better judged on her Breeders’ Cup win.
That said, she is in against the boys here and it would surprise me if she is good enough to trouble the big guns.
BILL ESDAILE’S PRINCE OF WALES’S 1-2-3
- Jack Hobbs
- Decorated Knight