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July Cup Classic! Our Runner By Runner Preview of Saturday’s Feature

Starman ridden by jockey Tom Marquand (centre in light blue) on their way to winning the Darley July Cup Stakes during the Darley July Cup Day of the 2021 Moet and Chandon July Festival at Newmarket racecourse.

The July Cup is the feature race at Newmarket on Saturday and this year’s renewal of the Group 1 looks like an enthralling clash of the generations. Check out our runner-by-runner guide to the contest, alongside Matchbook’s latest offer where new customers can claim Money Back as a Free Bet up to £30 if your first bet loses.



All odds are Matchbook Odds – Prices correct at the time of publish


1. ARTORIUS (Anthony & Sam Freedman, Jamie Spencer) 5.1

Aussie raider whose notable hold-up tactics can leave him as something of a hostage to fortune in his races, as showcased by his narrow defeat in last month’s Platinum Jubilee Stakes where he flew home having been denied a clear passage in-running. Jamie Spencer keeps the partnership intact and if they do go off hard this could be run to suit, but it’s a slight concern that his losing run is now at nine and he may be playing for minor money at best.



2. BLACKROD (Michael Dods, Connor Beasley) 42

Son of 2012 July Cup winner Mayson who runs in the same silks of David Armstrong. Hamilton novice winner as a juvenile, and he’s really come into his own since tackling handicaps, his form figures in that sphere now reading an impressive 7211317; latest effort in the ultra-competitive Wokingham. Remains open to improvement after just the ten starts, and his stable are renowned for developing their sprinters, but he might prefer slightly easier ground and bombed out (beaten over 11l) on his only previous start above handicap level.



3. CREATIVE FORCE (Charlie Appleby, William Buick) 7

Very progressive from 2 to 3 after being gelded, winning his first four starts last year including the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. Finished just 2l behind Starman when fifth in the race afterwards, before deservedly gaining maiden Group 1 honours in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes. Bounced back from a Dubai disappointment when runner-up to stablemate Naval Crown in last month’s Platinum Jubilee. Niggling concern that he does tend to act at Ascot better than most tracks, however, and he may just find this too sharp a test, as he did 12 months ago.




4. EMARAATY ANA (Kevin Ryan, Tom Eaves) 40

Shamardal gelding who was well held at 100/1 in this last year but produced subsequent form figures of 121, reversing form with Starman in the Haydock Sprint Cup; first Group 1 success. Hasn’t gone on from that since, however, with his form figures in 2022 currently reading an underwhelming 15-15-15. Plenty to prove on the back of those recent showings, and 6yos don’t have the best recent record in this contest (no winner since 2006).



5. NAVAL CROWN (Charlie Appleby, James Doyle) 8.2

50/1 fourth in the 2000 Guineas last year, and he went on to chase home stablemate Creative Force in the Jersey Stakes. Progressive since campaigned as a sprinter this term, building on an encouraging 20/1 fourth in the Al Quoz over in Dubai when a 33/1 winner of the Platinum Jubilee last month; made almost lone forrow down stands rail. Quite how advantaged he was by his track position that day remains to be seen, but he’s still open to improvement in this sphere and ran well at this track as a juvenile, so has to enter calculations at the very minimum.



6. ALCOHOL FREE (Andrew Balding, Rob Hornby) 32

Group 1 winner at 2 and 3, a close third in the Falmouth (1m) at this meeting 12 months ago flanked by Group 1 victories in the Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes. Form figures since that Goodwood success read a relatively modest 68349, however, and she didn’t appear to be a natural sprinter dropped to this distance in the Platinum Jubilee last time. Interesting that connections persevere at this distance on the back of that, but she’d likely need this to turn into a proper stamina (rather than speed) test, which looks unlikely.



Newmarket racecourse logo

Newmarket Racecourses, The Links, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 0TG. United Kingdom.

Newmarket Racecourse

Known as the headquarters of British racing, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course features a clutch of top quality events such as the 1000 and 2000 Guineas in early May and Champions Day in October. One of the fairest tracks in the world, racing at the Rowley Mile is divided into two seasons, spring and autumn, and only on rare occasions does the ground ride on the soft side. Racing switches from the Rowley Mile to the popular July Course during the summer months. The highlight of the season is the Darley July Cup, Europe’s leading six furlongs sprint, which takes place on the final day of the three-day July Meeting. The six evening meetings are amongst the most popular fixtures staged anywhere in the country.


7. DOUBLE OR BUBBLE (Chris Wall, Jack Mitchell) 60

Put up a clear career-best showing when landing the Group 3 Abernant at Newmarket on seasonal debut. Had won at that meeting on reappearance 12 months prior, however, before struggling in Group company at Royal Ascot, which she repeated when only eleventh in the Platinum Jubilee. Probably best in lesser company against her own sex, and she’s expected to find this level too hot once again.



8. HAPPY ROMANCE (Richard Hannon, Sean Levey) 24

Speedy sort who finished fast for fourth in the Haydock Sprint Cup last season, before struggling in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, where the surface mightn’t have been ideal. Went close in a couple of top International sprints earlier this year, before making an encouraging British reappearance when seventh in the Platinum Jubilee. Record above Group 3 level currently at 0-7, but she has conditions in her favour here and looks a lively each-way player.



9. ROMANTIC PROPOSAL (Edward Lynam, Chris Hayes) 10.5

Six-time winner, having her day in the sun when landing the Group 1 Flying Five at the Curragh in September. Comfortable winner of a Listed race at Naas on her seasonal debut, and although she’s up in both grade and trip here she was a winner when last seen over this distance. Shouldn’t be dismissed for the 2014 winning trainer, but 6yos don’t have the best record in this event and despite her Curragh win last year this looks by far her toughest assignment to date.



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10. CADAMOSTO (Aidan O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan) 34

Impressive Dundalk maiden winner on debut last April, and although he’s 0-5 since he’s been set some tough assignments; respectable fourth in two separate Group races at Royal Ascot. Improved for the addition of blinkers in the Commonwealth Cup last month, where he didn’t aid his cause by hanging right in the closing stages. Lightly-raced enough to build on that showing, and the headgear is retained, whilst he is also the sole representative of Aidan O’Brien, who has taken two of the last four renewals.



11. FLAMING RIB (Hugo Palmer, Ben Curtis) 13.5

Very fast colt who was a five-time winning sprinter for previous trainer Tom Dascombe. Didn’t stay 7f in the Greenham on his stable/seasonal debut, and has produced subsequent form figures of 122, a neck defeat in the Group 2 Sandy Lane followed by a length and a quarter defeat to Perfect Power in the Commonwealth Cup. Arguably less suited by his centre to stands side track position than the winner that day, whilst this slightly easier track is also expected to suit, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the form reversed.



12. KING HERMES (Yoshito Yahagi, Ryusei Sakai) 32

Japansese speedster who landed the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (7f) at Tokyo in November. Reappearance third in the Arlington Cup (Grade 3, 1m) followed by a sixth in the NHK Mile Cup (Grade 1, 1m) back at Tokyo in May, where he showed early speed and kept on once put under maximum pressure. Worth a try sprinting on the back of that performance, but he comes up against the best of the best European horses here and just a watching brief can be advised.



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13. PERFECT POWER (Richard Fahey, Christophe Soumillon) 3.65

Exceptional colt who’s now 6-9 in his career, bouncing back from a seventh in the 2000 Guineas (looked a non-stayer) when claiming the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month; third Group 1 success. Undoubtedly given a fine ride there by Christophe Soumillon on a favourable part of the track, however, and whether he’ll be quite as effective on this slightly easier course can be questioned, but nonetheless, he’s got to be considered one of the main protagonists.



14. TWILIGHT JET (Michael O’Callaghan, Leigh Roche) 27

Danced many dances as a juvenile, making his eleventh and final start at 2 when down the field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; impressive Rowley Mile Group 3 winner on his start prior. Showed he’d trained on from 2 to 3 when bolting up in a Naas Group 3 on seasonal debut back in May. That might not have been form to totally rely on, however, with those to have raced since a combined 0-6, that including Twilight Jet’s last of 20 finish in the Commonwealth Cup. Subsequent dirty scope put forward as the reason for that showing, but he’s still now 0-3 at this level and others are preferred.



Verdict

No better place to start than with Perfect Power, who was given a peach of a ride to land the Commonwealth Cup last month. Now a three-time winner at this level, he’ll be many punters idea of the winner here, but there’s a nagging suspicion that he was favoured by his track position at Ascot, and on this slightly easier track it would be no shock to see FLAMING RIB reverse the form. Hugo Palmer’s colt has proven to be a reliable speedster himself, doing best of the runners that raced centre to stands side in the Commonwealth. This course looks more suitable, and he can replicate 2017 winner Harry Angel, who reversed Royal Ascot form in this contest. Happy Romance has conditions in her favour and has been knocking at the door at this level. She is another who will be better suited to this track than Ascot and might provide the selection with most to think about.

  1. FLAMING RIB
  2. Happy Romance
  3. Perfect Power

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