Newmarket’s three-day July Festival culminates this Saturday with all eyes on the best sprinters around in the Group 1 July Cup. Newmarket also plays host to the Bunbury Cup and Superlative Stakes, whilst there are good looking cards at both York and Ascot. Last week the preview landed the big race of the day with St Mark’s Basilica and a good 10/1 winner in the form of Hurricane Ivor.
Godolphin can land Newmarket curtain raiser
The opening race of the day from Newmarket is the Rossdales British EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes over seven furlongs. The Gosden’s have found some form in recent weeks, boasting a strike rate of 29%. They send the well-bred Ephrata who makes her debut and could be a big danger if the money starts to talk. She will take on a few fillies with form in the book and Calm Skies 2/1 caught my eye on her first start over course and distance two weeks ago. She cruised into the race that day and despite hanging right, quickened clear with a furlong to go. She was run down by the beautifully bred Inspiral and after a steward’s enquiry, placed third behind the reopposing Ardbraccan. Calm Skies will hopefully have learnt plenty from that extremely promising debut effort, and I believe she is open to any amount of improvement. By Shamardal and out of a Dubawi mare, she has a sublime pedigree and shouldn’t mind any rain that does fall. Charlie Appleby is currently operating at a 29% strike rate, whilst Jockey William Buick has 9 winners from his last 24 rides! Fingers crossed Calm Skies can strike for the inform duo.
Royal Ascot runner up can get her head in front
Next up on the card from Newmarket is the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap over seven furlongs. Sandringham Stakes runner up Samoot 3/1 heads the current betting and I think she can run another very big race. She was well beaten by Create Belief at Royal Ascot, but the field was incredibly strung out and she in turn beat the third, Messidor, by three lengths and the fourth, She Do, was a further seven lengths back. She was subject to quite the gamble that day too, suggesting punters or connections (quite possibly both) thought she was on an attractive handicap mark. She’s escaped with just a three-pound rise in the weights which compared to the winners 13lbs hike, looks rather generous! With form in the book on a sound surface and ground with ease in it, any rain that does fall shouldn’t be a worry, and I think she may bring about a quick-fire William Buick double.
Royal Fleet can bring up the Buick Hattrick
The bet365 Mile Handicap is next on the Newmarket card where the extremely exciting Royal Fleet 6/4 can enhance his reputation. A winner of his sole two-year-old start, Royal Fleet was well backed on his return and made all the running to win a Yarmouth Novice Stakes and remain unbeaten. He powered clear in the final furlong that day and the form has been franked by both the second and third. With just two career starts to date he is entitled to improve plenty and he has been all the rage in the early midweek market. Kaheall looks his main danger for the inform Marquand and Haggas but he had to work hard to win Chelmsford Handicap. There were four of them involved in a bunched finish, suggesting to me it may not have been the strongest of races. The remainder of the field have more experience than the front two in the market but in my opinion lack the scope for improvement. Royal Fleet looks a hot prospect, and I will side with him to make it 3 wins from 3 lifetime starts.
I have a Theory about the Superlative Stakes
Group 2 honours are up for grabs in the next at Newmarket in the bet365 Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs. Dhabab heads the betting for Dettori and the Gosden’s and is sure to attract market support after a slightly troubled passage at Royal Ascot. He appeared to be checked at a crucial time of the race and there is no doubt this step up to seven furlongs should really suit. This looks a competitive contest though and I have decided to take him on at the prices. Native Trial looks another good ride for William Buick, whilst Great Max has strong claims on the back of his Royal Ascot third. Neither appealed to me at their current prices and I decided to take a chance on Austrian Theory 16/1 who defeated the reopposing Private Signal on his sole start to date. The pair pulled nicely clear that day and Austrian Theory looked far from the finished article. He travelled effortlessly into the contest but did hang considerably to his left in the closing stages. Drawn in stall 1, that isn’t ideal here, but I’m hoping he will have learnt plenty for that experience and can take a huge step forward. Joe Fanning takes the ride once more and he gave me the impression he knew he had plenty left in the tank and didn’t knock him about. It is a small Theory, but I think Austrian could cause a shock.
Bunbury Cup can go to the Champ
The big handicap of the day is the Bunbury Cup over seven furlongs. Perotto was a 22/1 winner of the Britannia Stakes for the preview, and he currently heads the betting at around the 5/1 mark. He saw out the mile well that day and I wouldn’t be totally convinced this drop back in trip is what he wants. Interestingly, Oisin Murphy rode him to Royal Ascot success, but he rides Symbolize 16/1 for Andrew Balding. Oisin is the retained rider for Balding so it may not be a clue, but he does have Champion Jockey aspirations so will do what he can to ride the horses he believes has the best chance of winning. That is a flimsy angle so I will talk form! Symbolize was beaten 10 lengths at Royal Ascot by runaway winner Highfield Princess but he tanked through the contest and caught my eye challenging down to the last furlong. Symbolize appeared to be on the wrong side of the track, with the first five home coming from the stand side, whilst Symbolize raced in the far side group and finished seventh. He has been dropped 2lbs for that effort, bringing him down to a mark of 100. He hasn’t got his head in front since a debut success but has a whole host of respectable efforts to his name, including a good second on his sole start at the track. In a race where plenty have strong claims, I think symbolize represents value and can outrun his current odds of 16/1.
Kirby and Cox can reign Supreme in July Cup
An extremely good-looking field of 19 have assembled for this year’s renewal of the Group 1 July Cup over six furlongs. Defending Champion Oxted heads the current market alongside the exciting Starman. Both have strong claims but do have to concede 6lbs to progressive three-year-olds Dragon Symbol, Creative Force and Rohaan. This really does look a cracker and I have decided to take a chance on another three-year-old. Clive Cox usually starts to fire in plenty of winners around this time of year and Supremacy 16/1 was a huge talking horse coming into the season. He was bitterly disappointing on his comeback run when finishing last in a race won by Rohaan. He was soundly beaten on his first two-year-old start though, so it may well be he desperately needs his first run. Clive Cox’s stable also wasn’t enjoying the finest run of form. He comes into this a 16/1 shot but on Official Ratings has just a pound to find with Oxted and he receives 6lbs from that rival. On figures alone he should have an outstanding chance, but he does have to prove he has trained on and can still mix it with the big boys. Glen Shiel and Art Power would interest me if the rain came but as it stands, I think Supremacy is worth chancing in a wide-open renewal.
Varian’s Prince can take the crown
Away from Newmarket now and over to York for the Group 3 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes. Ilaraab disappointed on his last start, ending a run of six successive wins. He needs to bounce back and wouldn’t make great appeal at the current prices. Hukum heads the current market after a fine third to Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. He ran a cracker that day and the form has been franked since with the second placed horse, Broome, winning a Group 1 in France. Hukum should like the ground, but I do have question marks about this trip for him. His only other run at the trip came in last season’s St Ledger where he cruised into the contest but failed to get home. As a result, I will be taking him on with Fujaira Prince 5/1 who has no stamina doubts at this trip. Second in last season’s Irish St Ledger, Fujaira Prince is rated 1lb superior to Hukum and brings proven form at the trip into the race. Having won after a 285, 324 and 362-day break, he is clearly a horse who goes well fresh. With the ground set to be testing, this could be a gruelling contest and I think Fujaira Prince will relish the test. Atzeni takes the ride, and he looks a nice price to me at 5/1. Of those at bigger prices, I thought Quickthorn could pinch a place in conditions he loves.
We’ve had the Prince, now it’s time for the King
The big handicap of the day from York is the John Smith’s Cup over an extended mile and two furlongs. Astro King 9/2 was a strong fancy of mine at Royal Ascot and I am hoping he can get compensation here. He ran a great race in the Royal Hunt Cup but was no match for runaway winner Real World. He shaped as though a step up in trip would suit and he gets an extra two furlongs here, which I believe will bring about plenty of improvement. Magical Morning has come out and majorly franked the form of that race, bolting up in a Sandown handicap. Astro King is due to go up a further 4lbs in the future so a current mark of 98 looks very generous. By Kingman and out of a Montjeu mare, the soft ground shouldn’t be an issue and there has been plenty of early market support. Surrey Pride and Aaddeey have also attracted strong support, but I have ground concerns for the latter and would question the form of Surrey Pride in comparison to Astro King.
Winter can prove her Power in Listed contest
The last race I will look at from York is the Listed John Smith’s City Walls Stakes over five furlongs. Dakota Gold finished off last season in blistering form rattling up a hattrick, but he hasn’t been seen to best effect when fresh in recent times and may come on for the run. The one I like in here is Winter Power 15/8 for David Allen and Tim Easterby. King Power’s pocket rocket filly sets the standards on Official Ratings and receives the sex allowance, making her the standout pick on figures. She will have to bounce back after disappointing in the King’s Stand but that run came on extremely quick ground and a look at her form would suggest she’s far more at home on ground with ease in it. She gets those conditions here and can make all for a sixth career success!
Summer Mile Stakes can go to Tilsit
Across to Ascot now and their big race of the day is the Group 2 Betfred Summer Mile Stakes where the current market is headed by Sir Busker. William Knight’s ultra-consistent son of Sir Prancealot ran a cracker behind Palace Pier last time out and goes well on soft ground. He looks likely to run another very big race, but I do believe he may be vulnerable to an improving type. Despite being a four-year-old, Tilsit 5/1 strikes me as just that. He didn’t step foot on a racecourse until he was three, running big races against the likes of My Oberon and 2000 Guineas winner Kameko. He reappeared at Riyadh where he was well beaten by True Self, but improved plenty for that effort when just being denied by Skalleti in a Group 1 in France. That run came on softish ground over a mile and a furlong, so we know Tilsit enjoys ease under foot. He travelled beautifully into contention that day and this step back down to a mile should be in his favour too. On Official Ratings he has a pound or two to find with a couple of these, but I think his best days are ahead of him and he can start with a win here!
By Sam Rideout
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