Persian Force (1-2 Favourite) emulated his sire Mehmas by winning the Close Brothers July Stakes (6f) at Newmarket today, with successful trainer Richard Hannon hailing the winner as “one of the best two-year-olds we’ve had in a long time”. Mehmas landed the Group Two contest six years ago to the day on July 7th, 2016.
Partnered by Rossa Ryan, the Amo Racing-owned Persian Force went to the front two furlongs from home and came home the very comfortable length and a half victor from Show Respect (33-1).
While Mehmas was retired to stud at the end of his juvenile career, the winning trainer revealed that his father, four-time champion Flat trainer Richard Hannon Senior, has already earmarked Persian Force as a Classic contender for 2023.
Richard Hannon said: “I’m delighted that Rossa put the race to bed when he needed to and we deserved that. He’s done exactly the same as Mehmas in finishing second in the Coventry and then winning the July Stakes and this horse I do think will get seven furlongs. We don’t have to go there immediately but at the end of the year he will. His temperament is exemplary and he behaves as very good two-year-olds do and I’m sure a step up would benefit.
“We might look at the National Stakes in Ireland and the Prix Morny next. My dad rang me after the Coventry and said he’s a Guineas horse and I thought that was a little bit out of the blue but that was the first thing he said to me and he did get very well to the line in the Coventry. If a horse has a lot of speed he doesn’t want to do that but because he’s so sensible he gives himself every chance of getting that trip.
“He has always given me a tingle, especially when he was beaten in the Coventry! He made up for it today and got his just rewards and I’m sure he’s a Group One winner waiting to happen. He’s an ideal horse to make a sire, he’s a gorgeous looker and has everything that good horses do have.
“Amo have had shocking luck at Royal Ascot and had a lot of seconds. You can say ‘bad luck, bad luck’ but we went there to see if we had a good horse and those questions were answered at Royal Ascot. This fella is probably one of the best two-year-olds we’ve had in a long time.
“The Coventry is always the best race of the year for two-year-olds in my opinion, I know it comes up early but a lot of good horses have been second and third in that race and this year is no different. It’s always great form.
“I love how we started with him in March, we didn’t know what the point was in holding on to him, he looks great and he’s working great and he’s looked like that all his life.”
Winning rider Rossa Ryan added: “It’s brilliant for Mr. Hannon and all the team because we were unlucky at Ascot and we got repayment for the horse here. Going forward we have our black-type race under our belts now so a lot of the pressure is off, so it’s a job well done.
“He’s so straightforward and is a relaxed character, he takes you through the race and fills you with confidence. It was probably the smoothest run I’ve got in a Group race for a long time and it all fell into place today. A lot of credit has to go to the lads at home, I do the easy job and they put in all the hard work at home so I couldn’t be more grateful to the team.
“Richard is a master of two-year-olds and when this lad was building up to Royal Ascot there were talks that he was as good as Canford Cliffs – which were his words not mine – so I was getting excited. It’s great to have a horse with a proper engine underneath like he does, it’s a good feeling.”
Brian Meehan, trainer of runner-up Show Respect, said: “That is much of what we expected to happen in the Coventry Stakes. He got stopped in the gate in the Coventry and in these sort of races you need a clean break.
“He has been able to show today what I always thought of and what James Doyle thought of him at Leicester. I’m really pleased.
“He is in the Gimcrack, the Richmond is there, and there is also the Prix Morny. All these races will be on his radar now. He is for sure one of the nicest two-year-olds around for the rest of the season.
“If you looked at the form, yes there was eight lengths or so to find with Persian Force, but if you take into consideration that his momentum was stopped if you factor that in you know you are good for a few more lengths. This track is tremendous and Sean (Levey, jockey) said there was an amazing cover out there. We were happy with it and he has worked on this sort of ground before.”
By Graham Clark & Nick Seddon/The Jockey Club
Photo: The Jockey Club/Newmarket Logo