Yibir (11-8 Joint-Favourite), who enjoyed his finest hour when triumphant in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar in November 2021, got back to winning ways when successful in the Group Two Princess Of Wales's Close Brothers Stakes (1m 4f), the highlight of Ladies Day at the Moët & Chandon July Festival at Newmarket today.
Godolphin’s four year old Dubawi gelding had endured a frustrating 2022 up to now, being the beaten favourite in his three outings at Meydan, Newmarket and Belmont Park. However, Yibir made no mistake today as took the lead in the final half-furlong to come home the cosy two and a quarter length victor from Living Legend (18-1) with his stablemate Global Storm (16-1) another neck away in third.
Trainer Charlie Appleby, who was enjoying his second Princess of Wales’s Stakes success after Hawkbill (2017), said: “Full credit must go to Shane Fetherstonhaugh who rides him at home and the team - they’ve done a great job. Shane has been saying at home over the last 10 days or so that he’s as good as we’ve had him and I thought he looked a picture in the paddock. He’s been moving so well at home and as William (Buick, jockey) just said he’s a different horse when he’s got pace to run at.
“He’s just a different animal. People have possibly been scratching their heads on the outside wondering what went on at Newmarket and at Belmont but it’s just simple, - he needs a gallop. He’s a big unit and if you take a pull on him he just gets a bit disorganised and it takes him a bit to get warmed up and get going. It was a lovely ride by William and I’m pleased to get him back in front and hopefully now we’ll head to Saratoga for the Sword Dancer.
“Ultimately we’ll be looking at the Breeders’ Cup but with Keeneland at that time of year we’ll have to keep an eye on the weather. One thing he does like is to have his feet rattling so if it came up a bit slow we’d have to question mark it. Most importantly he’s got his head back in-front and we’ll go to the Sword Dancer (at Saratoga in August) first and work our way from there.”
On third-paced Global Storm, Appleby added: “I’m delighted. We knew what he was out there to do and ensure that there was a decent gallop but we were confident that he would run a sensible race because he’s been leading all these horses at home. He’s got a sensible race programme himself so we’re delighted.”
The Moulton Paddocks handler also had an update on four of his stable stars – 2021 Cazoo Derby hero Adayar, recent Coral-Eclipse runner-up Native Trail, QIPCO 2000 Guineas scorer Coroebus and 2021 St Leger winner Hurricane Lane.
“Adayar is cantering away. We took him out of the King George a couple of days ago. I don’t want to sound like I’m repeating myself but we didn’t want to force him to do something, because he’s a big horse and he’s been absolutely fantastic for us and the way he’s been over the last 10 days is fantastic, he’s a different horse.
“More importantly he looks great and he’s got his old spark about him. He’s having a buck and a kick when he’s going out and I’ve not seen that for six weeks or more, we’re starting to see the old Adayar back. I’m not going to target any race, he’ll tell me when he’s back and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.”
“I thought Native Trail ran a solid race in the Eclipse and was just out-stayed at that level. At two down I thought William was giving him a lovely ride and I could see what he was doing as he was just looking at that petrol gauge. One thing I thought was that he got 10 furlongs but he didn’t go through the line at that trip, he’s always going to be a very competitive horse at that trip but I’d be surprised if we can reverse the form with the first and second. I think personally I’d come back to a mile and look to France for the Prix Jacques Le Marois and then work away from there.
“Coroebus is going to head to the Sussex Stakes all being well. That’s the plan and it should hopefully be a great race.
“Unfortunately for Hurricane Lane it was documented as Soft ground (in France on Sunday for the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud but we knew it wasn’t going to be Soft ground. The lads walked it in the morning and they said it was Good ground there and by the time they started it was Good To Firm.
“William said that even when he was going down to post he was not enjoying it and he wasn’t hard on him towards the end to him. It’s unfortunate that we’ve run twice on Good To Firm ground this year, but it’s materialised that way. Most importantly he’s come out of it fine and he’s cantered this morning and it’s a very simple rule now, we’ll be waiting for Soft ground. When that appears we’ll see him back out and hopefully at his best again.”
Winning jockey William Buick added: “It went very smoothly and we had an even pace to focus on and he galloped out well.
“He won the Bahrain Trophy on this card last year. It was really good to get him back to winning ways. He felt great today. The last three times he has run very well just things conspired against him either with a bad draw or lack of pace.
“Everything went right for him today though and he has come back and won.”
Joint-trainer Mark Johnston said of runner-up Living Legend: “He hasn’t beaten Yibir today but he has made him work and given him three pounds. It is him back at his best I would say. The last two runs have been very disappointing, fluffing the start. The horse doesn’t have any specific issue with the stalls either. He had someone at the start with him today as he starts to get on edge at the beginning so he is prone to be slowly away.
“Ryan (Moore, jockey) said he was slowly away again today but luckily with a good run to the turn he could get him back in without getting after him. That (having someone at the start) has worked well and he has run well.
“He has massively exceeded my expectations. We thought this horse was a very good three year old but I’m in the camp that believes that once flat horses have a tendon injury that not only are they likely to come back again but that they will never be quite as good as they were.
“How good might he have been without the tendon injury as he is clearly running better now than anybody could have imagined. He is at the top of his form. Either we are wrong and they are not all slow after a tendon injury or he was going to be a superstar.
“We had been thinking of travelling with him anyway. If this horse can’t win a Group One in the UK he would win one in Germany or somewhere not that Group Ones are the be all and end all as he is a gelding as prize money is the be all and end all.
“He has got entries in Germany and we were thinking of that but you don’t go there off a couple of bad runs. Ryan feels there is a Group One in him but that you would have to be away of some of the sharp starts at these foreign tracks.”