Trainer Richard Hannon believes that Persian Force has an “outstanding chance” of emulating his sire Mehmas by bouncing back from defeat at Royal Ascot in next week’s July Stakes at the Moët & Chandon July Festival at Newmarket.
The Herridge handler watched the Amo Racing owned-two year old have his colours lowered for the first time at the Royal meeting when filling the runner-up spot in the Group Two Coventry Stakes – just like Mehmas did back in 2016.
Having been impressed with his subsequent work at home Hannon, who saddled Lusail to glory in last year’s July Stakes, is confident that Persian Force can go one better in the six-furlong Group Two prize (Thursday 7th July), exactly as Mehmas did six years ago.
Hannon said: “Persian Force worked super on Tuesday and the July Stakes has always been the plan since he finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“It comes at the right time for him and he will love the track. I don’t think there will be as many runners in the Coventry and he should have an outstanding chance.
“He proved at Ascot he is a very good two year old. Mehmas did exactly the same – he was second in the Coventry and then went for the July Stakes and won that. This horse is by Mehmas and he has a very similar profile.
“The draw at Ascot was funny as it turned out you wanted to be on the far side so in hindsight it probably turned out that it was a disadvantage being in 12 where he was. But I’m not using it as an excuse and we will see how much of a disadvantage it was in the July Stakes.
“He is a very good two year old. He will be winning some big races before the end of the year and hopefully the July Stakes is one of them.”
Looking beyond this season Hannon feels that Persian Force could develop into a contender for next year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas, which he is as short as 20-1 for, as does his father, and four-times champion Flat trainer, Richard Hannon Snr.
Hannon continued: “Funnily enough my dad rang me after the Coventry Stakes and he said that he would win the 2000 Guineas. I thought that was interesting.
“I think he could stretch out and be a Guineas horse next year as he is so relaxed so the trip should be no problem.”
One race that has so far eluded Hannon is the Darley July Cup, however he feels Happy Romance could surprise a few by giving him a breakthrough success in the Group One prize which is worth £600,000 this year.
After finishing second in the Group One Al Quoz sprint at Meydan in March the daughter of Dandy Man was beaten just two lengths when seventh on her first start in Britain this year in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot – a run Hannon expects her to come forward significantly for.
He said: “She has a Listed entry at Chelmsford on Sunday but If she goes to the July Cup, she will go very well.
“She ran a very good race in Meydan and at Royal Ascot too. She would have just needed it at Royal Ascot as she just twisted a joint before. We put her on the equine spa that we now have and it did her a lot of good.
“She was only beaten two lengths at Ascot. She is a very good filly and seems to be getting better as she has got older.
“With her normal improvement, they could well find it hard to beat her with the amount she has come on for that run. I do think she is overpriced.
“She surprised me in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. She has been a star throughout her career and a pleasure to have around. She has given her owners (The McMurray Family) a lot of pleasure and has been a real money spinner.”
The Listed Coral Distaff at Sandown Park on Saturday (2nd July) is the preferred option for Heredia, who extended her unbeaten record to four in the Sandringham Handicap at the Royal meeting.
However Hannon has not ruled out pitching the Dark Angel filly in at Group One level in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket (Friday 8th July), a race which he claimed 12 months ago with the now-retired Snow Lantern.
Hannon said: “I think she will go to Sandown on Saturday. She trod on her shoe yesterday though so if she is unable to make Saturday she will go the following Friday to the Falmouth but if she sound the rest of the week it looks like Sandown is the first choice
“Inspiral did look good at Royal Ascot and is just coming good. Our filly would love soft ground so we might be better off waiting for something like the Prix Rothschild if we are going to take on that calibre of horse.
“If we can bank this Listed race then we can start shooting at stars a little bit. She has won her first four races, including a 28-runner Royal Ascot handicap, and it takes a good horse to do that. I’ve no doubt she will get up to Falmouth level
“Listed races aren’t easy but off her rating she would be a strong favourite and it is hard to pass up an opportunity like that if she is going to continue improving through the year as I think she will so we will be better off delaying that Group One for a while.
“However, on the flip side if we did go to the Falmouth she is probably now in the form of her life so there is a big thing of going to the Falmouth on that basis.”
Hannon expects the July Course to play to the strengths of Dawn Of Liberation who will bid to put his defeat in the Listed Poundland Surrey Stakes at Epsom Downs behind him when lining up in the Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (Thursday 7th July) at the same level.
He said: “I think the track will suit him better than Epsom. He has had a nice break since then and this is a nice slot.
“He won his maiden first time out this year before getting beat in the Feilden then he bolted up in a conditions race at Goodwood.
“He did take me by surprise at Goodwood and after that I thought he would like the track at Epsom but he didn’t. This is a nice race for him.”
Persian Force might not be the only two year old to represent Hannon at Pattern level during the three-day Moët & Chandon July Festival with the Group Two bet356 Superlative Stakes on Saturday week under consideration for first time out Salisbury scorer Bajan Bandit.
He said: “He did very well last week at Salisbury and he is certainly a horse we could look at the Superlative with.
“He looked like he was beaten at Salisbury but I like the way he came back and that is a sign of a good horse.
“Whether he is up to a Superlative we don’t know yet but it is certainly worth looking at the race and he will improve a lot for that last race.”
Outside of the feature races Hannon is also likely to be represented in a number of handicaps across the meeting including the £100,000 Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap (6f) on the opening day in which he intends to run Bosh, Gisburn and Witch Hunter.
He said: “Witch Hunter would have needed that big time at Windsor the other day and he will improve massively for that so it wasn’t too frustrating.
“He will like that big field handicap at Newmarket. It is a race we have had on our mind for him for a while.
“Gisburn would have a good chance in it to. He is in the Bunbury Cup but he will stick to this as it is it for three year olds only.
“Bosh will likely go there as well. He was fourth at Goodwood the other day where Gisburn was just behind him in fifth but we think he is better than that.”
The Moët & Chandon July Festival often produces a smart maiden winner or two and Hannon feels Classic, an unraced son of Dubawi could merit an entry in the Weatherbys British EBF Maiden Stakes and be one to keep a close eye on.
He said: “Julie Wood has a nice two year old that might go to Newmarket called Classic.
“Julie is coming up on Friday and we will give him a bit of work. Julie might not want to go there first time out but it is a possibility he could run. “He looks pretty useful.”