The start of Newmarket’s July Festival is today with some top quality action coming up over the next few days.
14:10 Bahrain Trophy
The action gets underway with a Group 3 for three-year-olds. Already it looks like their will be a couple of non-runners reducing the field size in this race.
Mr Singh is already trading at an odds-on price and for a perfectly good reason. He was second at Royal Ascot in the King Edward VII Stakes behind Balios, who made a sweeping run from the back. He hit the front a little too soon and was arguably treading water inside the final stages. Despite the lack of a pace angle in the race this may not be as truly ran as the Ascot race therefore it may play into his hands a little better. Overall there could be some better value looking elsewhere.
Tommy Docc and Future Empire are similar prices in the market and I slightly favour the Godolphin horse. They met in the Queen’s Vase where they finished second and third respectively but it was Future Empire who was the eyecatcher. He was held up in rear for most of the race before flying home and was staying on really strongly in the closing stages but could get to either Aloft or Tommy Docc, who had first run. He has a course win to his name, which is an added positive and he should go well. As a juvenile last season he placed on both starts in Group company and can go close today. Keith Dalgleish’s Tommy Docc did really well to do so well at Royal Ascot boosting racing in the north. However coming into Group company he may struggle, especially off a 16lb higher mark.
The other two in the race are Horseshoe Bay and Monotype. The former improved for the step-up in trip to win on his third starts but needs to find more here to go close while the Luca Cumani runner should improve for the quicker ground after his two starts have both been on soft ground. Again the same can be said that he needs to improve further but he is the least exposed of the field, so his mark of 87 could potentially look lenient.
Advice: Future Empire without Mr Singh (11/4 Paddy Power)
14:40 July Stakes
This Group 2 sees the Windsor Castle form go up against the Coventry form from Royal Ascot.
Eltezam entered the tracker following his run at Royal Ascot finishing third in the Coventry Stakes where he finished behind Buratino and Air Force Blue. He got warm before the race but he may prove that a trait again in the paddock here but don’t let that put you off. It was a truly ran race where he was leading and prominent throughout. He shaped like a step-up in trip may suit him but he stays at six furlongs here. Richard Hannon Senior had a good record in this race, which was continued by his son last year when Ivawood won. It is a strong possibility that will continue here with Eltezam.
Areen is a horse that I saw make his debut at York and he won the four-runner Novice Stakes very nicely indeed. At Royal Ascot Kevin Ryan hit the crossbar on a number of occasions and this was one of them, when he was second in the Windsor Castle behind Washington DC. That was over five furlongs and the step-up to six furlongs should really suit him as he has been strong at the finish running on through the line. I couldn’t really put you off him but slight preference was for the Hannon runner. Kevin Ryan and Jamie Spencer teamed up yesterday at Catterick with a winner and a second.
Steady Pace is a feasible contender considering he has solid form with a third in the National Stakes and a third in the Windsor Castle. However preference is for both of the aforementioned horses. For me he may need to find a bit extra on those runs, which could happen for the step-up in trip. Sixth Sense is the most exposed of the field but ran a good race in defeat when third in the Chesham Stakes. He led the main group and found no extra. That was over seven furlongs so the drop back to six furlongs should see him go well and he is a pace angle into this race, which could set it up for a closer.
One other to mention is Elronaq, who made all to win a maiden on the other course 20 days ago however that form hasn’t yet shown much with the second and third being well-beaten next time out. He was over a length behind Eltezam on debut. One to see how the market is speaking about his chances.
Advice: Eltezam (11/2 each-way)
15:15 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes
A competitive eight-runner Group 2 where you could argue a case for a few of these.
Mahsoob remained unbeaten in four following his win in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot. Unlike his win at York he was ridden more prominent before showing a good turn of foot to stay on for victory seeing off the Mark Johnston pair of Sennockian Star and Fire Fighting. The step up in trip looks like it should suit with the way he finishes his races strongly and he enters Group company for the first time. He has shown class so far in his four starts and that York win was quite impressive considering how wide he had to come down the stand side to get a run. He still holds an entry to the King George where he is likely to go after this depending on his performance.
My preference is for Second Step. The Luca Cumani four-year-old showed his battling qualities on the other Newmarket course last time out when beating Telescope by a head in the Group 2 Jockey Club stakes. It was only a four-runner race and it wasn’t ran at the most testing of gallops. He was settled out at the rear but came with a strong challenge to catch Telescope in the closing strides as Sir Michael Stoute’s horse possibly tired on his reappearance. Connections decided against running him at Royal Ascot by swerving the Hardwicke. It is hard what to make of the form in all honesty but Telescope won on his next start before disappointing in the Hardwicke while Pether’s Moon won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on his next start. This could be a stronger run race but with eight-runners he could offer some value against the favourite.
Gospel Choir is one of two Sir Michael Stoute runners. He won gamely on his reappearance after over 400 days on the track by seeing off Dubday by a shoulder in the end. That is likely to have taken quite a bit out of him as it was a hard race and was only 12 days ago. He obviously has battling qualities and is a class horse having won two Group 2 races before his absence. However the bounce factor could come into this and this six-year-old could find this coming a little too quickly following that reappearance. It is worth pointing out that he won the Yorkshire Cup last year, so has that extra bit of stamina to help him. One thing is for sure, his trainer is a shrewd operator and will know how to handle him. This is a race he has done well in winning five of the last ten renewals.
Hillstar is the other Sir Michael Stoute runner and he should come on for his reappearance in the Hardwicke Stakes where he finished fifth of seven only 19 days ago. That was his first run of the season after winning a Canadian Group 1 at Woodbine in October, that is definitely a race where it is hard to read the form but the second was an American horse who is a fairly consistent type, who has raced four times since finishing second on two occasions while winning a Grade 1 and Grade 3 race in the other two suggesting there could be something in it. However he is the second choice and may struggle in this field after a hard race in the Hardwicke.
The pace angle is worth a mention and is likely to come from Big Orange. He has been racing over further but blows his chances by taking a keen hold. He won a Listed Handicap at Chester last year over 1m5f when making all. Here he could go off at a pace and set it up for a number of these closers. It is worth mentioning Sheikhzayedroad who has been racing in Group company for a while now but he hasn’t shown too much in recent runs but the handicapper is keeping him on the same mark, which would be the concern.
Advice: Second Step (5/1 each-way)
15:45 Unibet Handicap
An open looking one mile two furlong handicap and my preference is for Muntadab. He got off the mark on the second occasion in the 12-runner Lingfield maiden, which doesn’t look the strongest however he won it in a good style. He then won on his handicap debut at Sandown beating Banditry by a ½l and has been risen 5lb for that success, which on the face of it could be quite lenient considering Banditry bolted up at Epsom at the start of the month suggesting he had some class about him. He is one that is unexposed in this sort of field and there could be plenty more improvement to come from him off this mark, which he would need to find stepping up in class.
Awesome Power has a similar profile in the formbook to Muntadab. He won an 11-runner Lingfield maiden before winning on handicap debut at Sandown for which he has risen 8lb in the handicap. In the maiden he and the second drew well clear of the rest suggesting they could be useful types. The second Royal Albert Hall finally got his win on the third time of asking after bumping into Jack Hobbs at Wolverhampton where he was third. At Sandown in the handicap he won he had to overcome a wide draw but did it well and won going away to suggest the extra furlong here would suit. He is a big danger to the selection.
Resonant could get an easy lead in this race and make all like his wins at Goodwood and here but on the other track. He has ran in two premier handicaps more recently at Epsom and Royal Ascot however he was seen off by a better class of horse at the latter but at the former he was unable to lead and pulled hard throughout blowing his chance. Back to usual front-running tactics from a good draw should see him go well. Trainer Mark Johnston is searching for a hat-trick after winning the last two renewals of this race.
Dissolution is another worth mentioning, he was second two starts ago behind Time Test, who showed he is a good thing when winning the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was only beaten by just over a length, which is closer anything got at Ascot. You can discount his last effort as that was over a mile and a half, which didn’t seem to suit but he did make headway to finish eighth. Back down in trip here he is sure to go well for connections if the Ascot race hasn’t taken too much out of him. Rotherwick has to come into consideration. He ran well over a mile at Royal Ascot to finish fifth behind War Envoy but a trip like this is something that could suit him better. Jack Hobbs thrashed him two starts ago, and he has shown how good he is, at Sandown over this distance but he just beat Stravagante, who went onto win a Epsom handicap. Back up to this trip he could prove to be overpriced.
Advice: Muntadab (4/1 each-way)
16:20 Maiden Fillies Stakes (Div I)
I’m not one to bet on Maiden races and there is very little to talk of in terms of form for this race.
Greenfyre made her debut a week ago at Newbury behind a very taking La Rioja. On the evidence of what we saw you could suggest the winner to be a Group horse in the making, so it wasn’t a bad run in defeat. However she is quickly turned out, which may be a slight concern but she showed promise to outrun her 33/1 odds on debut, so must be highly thought of.
For purposes of putting one word this would be a tentative selection. Falcon Annie made her debut at Chester on soft ground. A testing track for a horse to make their debut so should have learnt plenty. She showed good early speed but she went off to fast and in the closing stages she wasn’t knocked about. Hopefully she will come on for that run and prefer this quicker ground, which should put her close in my book. I don’t think the form is that bad with the front two both running at Royal Ascot and both ran their races.
Alinstante won a maiden at Chelmsford running on well despite showing signs of greenness. I’m never keen on form from that track but she beat an odds-on favourite and comes from a yard that doesn’t usually have many first time out winners suggesting she could be a smart type.
Then we are onto the newcomers really. Marenko is beautifully bred and in time will be one going up to a mile. Richard Hannon knows what he’s doing with two-year-olds so one to see in the paddock and watch the market on. The same can be said about Winter Rose, who has a speedy pedigree. In betting she is the Hannon third choice. Charles Hills doesn’t tend to have too many first time out winners, so Turaathy is likely to come on for the run. The same can be said about Charlie Fellowes and his filly Salvo is one that has a middle distance pedigree.
Advice: Falcon Annie (14/1 each-way)
16:55 Maiden Fillies Stakes (Div II)
Division Two of this Maiden Fillies Stakes and there is even less to go on based on form with only two horses having racecourse experience.
E Fourteen has shown very little on both starts and could be out of her depth here while Mysterious Glance ran ok on debut at Haydock and will one on for that experience. The form from that Haydock maiden is starting to take some shape with the fourth Hawatif winning on her next start while the third White Witch improved to be second on her next start.
The market is headed by Lumiere. She is out of a dam that won her only start over seven furlongs and comes from an in-form trainer that is capable of producing horses first time up in Mark Johnston. That is already accounted for in the market with her being short. Richard Hannon can also get them ready first time so expect Madhatten to be prominent in the market. Her dam is Traou Mad, who won over five furlongs in a two-year-old Listed race in France. Her pedigree suggests she should be capable of winning a race of this nature.
Ed Dunlop and Luca Cumani both have runners. These are two trainers where you expect their runners to benefit from their first runs and be better second time out. However this looks a wide open maiden and their runners are in with chances. Alqubbah for Dunlop is a half-sister to Witch Of Fife, who won a Newmarket maiden on her first start and won a weak Conditions Race as a juvenile. Other than that you would be led to believe he’d be better in time based on statistics of the sire. Sharja Queen represents Cumani and has a nice pedigree. Her sire Pivotal does have his fair share of two-year-old winners but worrying trainer statistics with having 12 winners from 99 runners on this course in the last five seasons, which equates to a 12% strike rate.
Overall this is a race where you’d rather not burn your fingers. It is definitely one to watch and probably take out some of them for the future.
Advice: No bet
17:30 Sir Henry Cecil Stakes
Estidhkaar hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the 2000 Guineas where he faded dramatically in the latter stages. I can’t have him here with the ground likely to be of a similar standard on the quick side plus the factor his trainer Richard Hannon has said he may consider pulling him out of the race if he can’t get his toe in. For me this ground will be too quick for him, so he is unlikely to race at all. However it is worth pointing out that he won the Group 2 Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs on this course last year however that was good to soft ground proving Hannon’s case about him liking cut in the ground. Also he is fairly short in the betting and I’m definitely looking elsewhere for a selection.
Bossy Guest was fourth in the 2000 Guineas and followed that up with a very good third in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Jersey Stakes is over seven furlongs and this is back at a mile but the way he finished his race at Royal Ascot suggests he is one to be going close here. He was staying on at the line just to beat Tupi to the final place on offer. Hopefully he is willing to settle this time after being keen early on in the Jersey. Overall he is a consistent type and still holds an entry into the Sussex Stakes.
Bartel is the one seeing the money this morning and is having a second go at the trip after finishing eighth in the Britannia Stakes, if Rotherwick goes well earlier on then he could be one to go with at a price here. At a bigger price Tupi is one that could go well following his narrow fourth place behind the selection in the Jersey. Two starts ago he beat Latharnach, who was second to Gleneagles in the St James’s Palace Stakes, which shows some good form.
Overall there are concerns and doubts about the favourite Estidhkaar. Therefore it is probably best looking elsewhere. Currently still all eight declared are set to run there you could back him each-way with the three places available. At a bigger price I’d be looking at Tupi.
Advice: Bossy Guest (11/4 win)
18:00 Robinsons Mercedes-Benz Handicap
A trappy looking five-furlong sprint to finish where course and distance winner Newton’s Law looks to be the one to side with. He won nicely here 13 days ago beating Sandfrankskipsgo. Previously he has finished second to Asphan Sam in a six-furlong race at Epsom and followed that up with a second two starts ago over this trip at Haydock. He is more consistent of late and should run well again here. Drawn in five is fair enough and hopefully can run on well like he did last time out to provide a winner for Ryan Moore and Brian Meehan.
Jan Van Hoof is a threat having never been out of the first two from his four starts. However he really does need to improve from his Class Five races to go close in this Class Two race. Maljaa is the least exposed and ran a nice race back in third last time out despite being hampered. He looks the most obvious threat to the selection, as there could be more improvement to come from him and is likely to go close if he doesn’t encounter trouble in running.
Sandfrankskipsgo has a good course and record. He could outrun his odds and finish in a place with the dead eight still lining up. The only concern is that he hasn’t won for nearly a year but he has been putting in some good efforts so far this season and can continue to go well off this mark. Vimy Ridge is another three-year-old in this field and could find a bit more improvement. It was a good effort at Chester last time, but may find this a little too good. Old Boy Inxile had the class but if he can show some of that here he could go close off the lowest mark of his career. The only concern would be that there are a few improvers in this field.
Advice: Newton’s Law (7/2 each-way)