Day Three is the final day of the July Festival at Newmarket and we have seen some good racing with quite a few good horses proving their worth.
In terms of the blog yesterday we had Euro Charline placing in the Falmouth Stakes at 11/1. Then in the Heritage Handicap that followed Primrose Valley finished third at 33/1 with Mullionheir finishing fourth at 10/1. No winners but some nice priced places.
14:00 Bet365 Mile
This mile handicap is one where you can’t discount any of the 12-runners to easily.
Western Reserve drops back a furlong in trip after running over 1m1f at Sandown last time out. In the closing stages he didn’t see that out, so dropping back to a mile should see him go close despite a 4lb rise. In that Sandown race he was leading and we saw Pat Smullen in these colours make all on Snow Sky at Royal Ascot, so I’m wondering if connections will try similar tactics here. His first two starts came at Chelmsford and his debut was a good-looking Maiden and connection found a similar one on his second start for, which he improved. He is one that should go close here today.
Oracolo is at the head of the betting but he’s there for a reason. He is searching for a hat-trick after winning at Doncaster twice over this distance and on both times was quite eyecatching. His latest win saw him come from off the pace under Jamie Spencer before joining the front runners then when asked to quicken he took off and put the race to bed easily. He will need to step-up a bit more on what he has shown and could overcome a 11lb rise to go close to winning a Handicap like this.
Both Snoano and Laurence are interesting dropping back in trip. Of the pair I’d slightly prefer Laurence he’s coming here with relatively little weight and won on the Rowley mile course suggesting this July course shouldn’t prove many problems. At a double figure price he is one that could be worth backing as he could use that extra stamina to good effect. He is one that could improve for dropping back in trip. Snoano ran in a Listed race last time on the Rowley mile and the first two home in that race were second and third in the Tercentenary Stakes behind Time Test, so that form could prove strong dropping back in trip. The handicapper is also giving him a chance dropping him to this mark from which he should be competitive.
My Dream Boat showed progress over seven furlongs and was second to a really nice type last out at Sandown. He is one that could show further progress over this extra furlong. He was risen 8lb for that Sandown run but the form is working out well from it. Quick Defence was a good seventh in the Britannia at Royal Ascot and is a likely contender in this race. He won a low grade Maiden nicely at Leicester and there has been a winner to come out of it. If he can continue his progress then he is a big player in this race after that Royal Ascot run, depending on how much it took out of him. Them And Us has a course win and Louis Steward takes a useful 3lb and won on him over seven furlongs last time out. First time headgear over the last few weeks has seen horses improve dramatically and Good Contact wears the first time hood.
Advice: Oracolo (5/1 each-way)
14:35 Superlative Stakes
This Group 2 race for two-year-olds looks like an intriguing renewal with an Aidan O’Brien representative adding to it.
Air Vice Marshal was third on debut behind Jessica Harrington’s Rockaway Valley. Harrington’s colt won on his second start before finishing second in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh. O’Brien’s runner was an odds-on favourite and justified that when winning on his second start over this trip at Gowran Park. The raw form from those that have ran since looks below average but to the eye it was a very nice performance. He travelled well throughout before showing his experience and readily came clear. A similar performance here would make him hard to beat.
However with the race having a good each-way shape to it, it might prove worthwhile siding with Richard Fahey’s Birchwood. Nothing unusual about a Fahey runner winning first time up but after dwelling at the start it looked unlikely but he was driven out by Tony Hamilton and he stayed on well to get up to beat Secret Ambition. He progressed nicely from that when winning a Conditions Stakes at Newbury over six furlongs. Despite facing traffic problems in running Ryan Moore switched him to the right side and led into the final furlong seeing off Beaverbrook by more than a length quickening well. He did arguably disappoint over at Naas last time when well beaten in a Listed race however the ground was on the slow side, which wasn’t to his liking, so back on this sound surface he could be back to his best. The step-up in trip wouldn’t be a concern as this race has been the target since his Newbury win.
Beaverbrook is the most exposed but has showed progress. He is one dropping back in class after finishing fourth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. He went off at 33/1 and outran those odds. For me he still has something to prove but he is definitely a player up in trip and could get the run of the race from the front. The other Mark Johnston runner Champagne City could also go to the front early on as he did at Doncaster when winning a four-runner Novice Stakes but that form won’t have much depth and you question if it was a truly ran race. He needs to improve stepping up in class.
Of the other War Department is one catching the eye, especially with the way he won on his debut at Leicester. You can forget his run in the Coventry and just look at his Maiden win. He could potentially be smart but a concern would be on both starts he has been slow away. Tony Curtis and They Seek Him Here both won on their debuts and are likely to improve for those runs, the market will be telling for both of their chances.
Advice: Birchwood (10/1 each-way)
15:10 Bunbury Cup
A typically tricky big-field Handicap, which all the punters love! It is one of the race where you search for bookie offers such as paying an extra place or best odds guaranteed. There are two selections here.
The first one is Jallota for Charlie Hills, who won by a head at York last time out. It was a long time between drinks to be honest with his last win coming on this course in a Maiden as a juvenile. However with him getting his head back in front he could be capable of following that up here in a similar race. He has risen just 4lb for that win, so should be able to go close to replicating his effort. On that day Martin Harley said that he hated the cut in the ground, so with quicker ground he should be able to run well. It is worth pointing out his form on the July Course; from two starts he has won once and placed on the other.
Off bottom weight Firmdecisions can give his hat-trick bid a bold show here. Both of his wins came on the Rowley course and his mark has risen from 80 to 96 but there looks like there could still be more to come. In the end he bypassed the Wokingham and can go well ridden from the front or just in behind either way he has shown he is a useful type for connections. Pat Cosgrave seems to be able to get the best out of him, so expect a good run for your money.
One Word More comes from an in-form yard with a jockey riding at the top of his game. However he’s one that likes to get his toe in so the ground is against him here. Rene Mathis has good claims based on his course form but again he seems to act better with some moisture in the ground. Unforgiving Minute completed an all-weather hat-trick at the end of last year and has had a break since his last win. He has won over further and that would play to his stamina if as expected they went at a strong gallop. He is definitely one to take seriously but does have a bit to prove back on turf.
Lulu The Zulu looks to have a good chance on paper however would need to find something more. Second at Newcastle last time out by a head but this is a better race than that. Alistair Rawlinson takes off a handy 5lb off making her competitive yet stable form must be a concern. Suzi’s Connoisseur is an interesting runner. Looking back at his form then he was beaten by Accession off 2lb lower on the Rowley mile course. Yesterday Accession ran a good race to finish third in the Silver Bunbury Cup, which is a tenuous form line but something interesting. The hood is removed but does need to show more. Ayaar won the Spring Cup in taking fashion and then finished ninth in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. He steps down in trip here but the stiff uphill finish should play to his strengths especially if they go at a strong pace.
Advice: Jallota (14/1 each-way)
Firmdecisions (14/1 each-way)
15:45 July Cup
The market seems to be pointing towards a two-runner race between top-class Australian sprinter Brazen Beau and top home sprinter Muhaarar.
They could prove right; especially after the races they both took part in at Royal Ascot. My preference is for Muhaarar, who won the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup. Charlie Hills had always been keen on his chances in top-class races and so it proved when he travelled strongly before quickening with a blistering turn of foot to trounce his rivals. He beat Limato, a sprinter never to have finished outside of the front two, by nearly four lengths. From that race New Providence raced yesterday at York and won the Group 3 Summer Stakes; in the Commonwealth Cup he finished 13 of 18. It looked like a proper Group 1 race and on paper it looks like the form could prove that. In this race he also gets 6lb in weight from his main rival, which is another slight advantage. The only slight concern I have here is how much that race took out of him but his trainer has said he has worked well.
Brazen Beau was arguably the unluckiest second of the week. In the Diamond Jubilee he raced alone on the stands’ side with no cover and travelled quite well and looked the most likely winner but in the final few strides Wes Ward’s Undrafted quickened and stayed on well to deny Australian success. It was a brave move from jockey Craig Williams to ride him the way he did and it nearly proved a masterstroke. This could provide connections with some compensation after narrowly missing out at Royal Ascot and James Doyle is likely to be ridden with cover here despite having the widest of the draws again. Connections say he has worked well on the track, which if you’ve already backed him will be good to hear with this being a stiffer test than the Ascot track with its undulations and uphill finish.
Of the rest Tropics really did disappoint in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes however he has very good form on this course. From three starts he has won twice and finished second on the other, so he could run a big race. However it would take something to break into the top two places. Anthem Alexander was third in the Commonwealth Cup and was 4l away from the winner Muhaarar. She is a consistent sprinter and you’ll know you’re getting a run for your money if backing her. Astaire ran a big race to finish third in the Diamond Jubilee and he is one that could be overpriced at around 25/1.
Advice: Muhaarar (5/2 win)
16:20 Maiden Fillies Stakes
These are not races where I tend to bet, so it’ll be no surprise when you read the advice for this race. With ten-runners set to go to post, on paper it looks to revolve around just one of them.
Ballydoyle sets the a high standard after narrowly missing out on victory at Royal Ascot when second by a shoulder in the Chesham. A run anywhere close to that should she her win this dropping down in class. That is reflected in the market as she is already at an odds-on price. There could still be more to come from this filly and just by the name it would suggest connections see something special in her.
Nemoralia was fifth on debut on this course and looks like the most threatening of the rivals with form in the book to go off. From that Maiden the winner finished third in the Group 2 July Stakes on Thursday while the fourth won at Doncaster on his next start. In the race itself she was well-beaten but wasn’t knocked about and the experience will have sharpened her up. She holds entries into some good races at the end of the season, so connections will be hoping for a big run.
Boutan, Justice Lass, Norse Magic and Haley Bop have all raced and again will be fitter for that experience. Of those four mentioned I find Justice Lass the most interesting. Her debut came just 12 days ago over five furlongs, so stepping up to seven furlongs is a big ask on just her second start. However she has a pedigree that shouts stayer. The horse that finished behind her on debut has raced since and improved to finish second, stepping up in trip too. At a price she is one that could improve for the trip and run into a place.
Saeed bin Suroor won this race last year with a newcomer in Winter’s Moon. This year he has newcomer Natural Scenery entered and she is one that should get this trip on debut. Her dam won a Listed race over 1m2f and then finished second in both the French oaks and a US Grade 1, so has a classy pedigree. The three other runners Bocking End, Haggle and City Chic all come from trainers whose horses come on for their first runs, so they could prove to be one’s to take for the future too.
Advice: No Bet
16:55 Nursery Handicap
Majdool heads the market and if Beaverbrook wins the Superlative Stakes then he is bound to go off shorter than he already is. A mark of 84 seems reasonable for what he has done so far from his three starts. To the eye his debut was a in a hot Nottingham race however nothing has really come out of that to suggest the strength or depth of the race. He encountered better ground at Chester and was second to Beaverbrook by over four lengths but he also came over three lengths clear off Spongy back in third, who won next time out. He ran away with a Wolverhampton Maiden last time but has suggested he is improving with every run.
Mark Johnston’s Aleko won quite nicely on debut with some cut in the ground. Some of that field improved following that race where Aleko won by more than two lengths. For the amount of two-year-olds he has in training Johnston remarkably manages to get most of them straight first time out. His second start was in the Woodcote at Epsom where he was outpaced after being slow into stride, so here he is dropping into a Class 2 Nursery from a Listed race. The extra furlong could help him here and connections obviously regard him highly as he holds an entry into the National Stakes at the Curragh.
Simon Crisford has had a really good starting to his training career and First Selection dropping in class could prove to be some value in this race. He won well on his first two starts and some of the runners from those races have gone onto win since while some of them took on ambitious routes with some going to Royal Ascot. Over five furlongs he proved to have a good turn of foot and stay on strongly in his races. He was stepped up in trip for the Coventry where he finished ninth of 17 but was slow away, hampered in running and quiet keen. I’m hoping the extra furlong again should help him settle early and Crisford believes his horse will continue to improve and he is worth siding with this off top weight here..
Tawdheef ran on well in the late to claim victory on his latest start of Chepstow. He struggled in Listed company over five furlongs in the National Stakes at Sandown but improved going back up in trip. Again the extra furlong could see improvement, especially with the way he did his best work late at Chepstow on his latest start. Spongy was behind Majdool at Chester and after that effort won at Leicester over this trip. The second finally got his head in front next time from that race while the third improved to finish second however that was low grade stuff, so will need to improve but comes from a trainer who won this race last year.
Advice: First Selection (5/1 each-way)
17:30 Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicap
A less than inspiring 1m4f race to finish the card where only seven are going to post.
Castilo Del Diablo has been an all-weather runner for a large part of his career but he did win his Maiden over course and distance. David Simcock has put Sophie Killoran on to claim 7lb again like he did last time when he finished third over 1m6f. The drop back in trip should see him back to showing something he is capable of however last year Simcock listed a few problems with the horse and said that he doesn’t like turf.
Former Aidan O’Brein runner Kingdom is quite an interesting runner for Gary Moore. He has been over hurdles but with limited success it is fair to say. His mark back on the level has fallen from 87 on his last run to 84 here, so the handicapper is giving considering that he won off 92 under O’Brien. This does look a big ask.
Maxwell is the boring selection to be honest. He gets the three-year-old weight allowance and dropping back in class gives him this good opportunity to get back to the winners enclosure. It could prove a shrewd piece of placing by Ralph Beckett, who has also booked Pat Smullen to take the ride. He does have his stamina to prove as he didn’t really see it out at Royal Ascot however this probably won’t be ran at a strong gallop, which could play to a late turn of foot inside the closing stages. Also the cheekpieces have been removed and they possibly lit him up in the King George V Stakes.
Of the rest Liberty Red could have more to come trying this trip for the first time. He has gone up 6lb for his Pontefract win where he stayed on well to win over 1m2f. His pedigree suggests this trip should suit and with him being lightly raced he is likely to be thereabouts in a finish. The question mark would be the ground considering he has been running with cut in the ground. It was nearly two years ago when he raced on this sort of ground when finishing second and hasn’t been on it since, so that may be a slight concern.
Advice: Maxwell (11/4 win)