ONLY the seven runners stand their ground for this afternoon’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes (3.35pm), which hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for favourite backers in recent years.
Plenty of high profile horses have had their colours almost inexplicably lowered in this race, including The Grey Gatsby last year, Mahsoob 12 months earlier and Arab Spring back in 2014.
In fact, Mark Johnston’s Universal is the only winning favourite of this Group Two prize in the last decade.
That’s no reason alone to oppose market leader Frontiersman, but it certainly raises a few alarm bells for those about to wade into the 6/4 on offer with Coral.
Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old ran out an impressive winner of a valuable Newmarket handicap back in May before being thrown into the Coronation Cup at Epsom last month.
He wasn’t beaten far when second behind Highland Reel in that Group One assignment, looking a real threat to the winner rounding Tattenham Corner before looking ungainly up the home straight.
Whether it was the unique nature of the track with its cambers and undulations that didn’t suit him, or if he didn’t quite go through with his effort remains to be seen.
The fact that connections reach for first-time cheekpieces suggest that he isn’t entirely straightforward and may not be one to trust in a finish.
Sir Michael Stoute has saddled nine winners of this contest in the past and his Poet’s Word requires plenty of respect.
Stoute has a proven track record of bringing horses through handicap company into Group races and this rapidly improving four-year-old looks ready for this step up in trip too.
With the stable now beginning to fire, he will be hard to keep out of the first three.
Wings of Desire was second in last year’s King George at Ascot and made a satisfactory return at the Royal meeting.
He is likely to leave that run well behind, but will need to if he is to trouble the leading protagonists.
At the current prices, I’m prepared to take a chance each-way on David Simcock’s ALGOMETER at 10/1 with Coral.
He ran really well on his seasonal reappearance in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown when given a lot to do before running on to grab second.
I’m hoping the combination of slightly softer ground and the extra two furlongs will see him go close if ridden positively from the front.
The action kicks off with the Group Three Bahrain Trophy (1.50pm), a race John Gosden has farmed in recent years, winning four of the last six.
Crowned Eagle looks his number one contender. Outclassed in the Derby, he should relish the extra distance and you can see him being part of Gosden’s St Leger squad later in the season.
However, the horse with the strongest form in the line-up is RAHEEN HOUSE and he is worth supporting at 4/1 with Coral.
Brian Meehan’s son of Sea The Stars was really unlucky in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and he split Shutter Speed and Oaks heroine Enable on his reappearance at Newbury in April.
The stable are in flying form at present, while his pedigree and running style suggests he is crying out for this step up in trip.
Atty Persse is respected following his impressive win in the King George V Stakes, but this is his first start outside handicap company and he’s very short at 9/4 with Coral.
It is very difficult to concede a penalty in the Group Two July Stakes (2.25pm), so I’m happy to take on Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe at 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
James Tate has been firing in the winners of late and he has two big chances here.
Invincible Army is respected but I prefer the claims of HEY GAMAN, who destroyed Hugo Palmer’s well-regarded Arbalet at Yarmouth last week.
Martin Harley has chosen him over his shorter-priced stablemate and 14/1 looks good value.
The Hannon yard have won five of the last seven runnings of this race and I’m prepared to give another chance to Coventry flop DENAAR at 16/1 with Ladbrokes.
I’m always willing to forgive one bad run, especially as he was too keen at Ascot that day, and it would be typical if Frankie Dettori plundered a Group Two on his first ride back from injury.
Raheen House 1.50pm Newmarket
Hey Gaman e/w 2.25pm Newmarket
Denaar e/w 2.25pm Newmarket
Algometer e/w 3.35pm Newmarket