Key Video form: The July Cup
Ben Linfoot goes through the key videos for the July Cup, with the Guineas, King's Stand and Diamond Jubilee in focus.
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We are all set for potentially one of the most exciting Group One sprints in years when a whole host of top-notch sprinting stars gather for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Run over six furlongs on the famous July Course that has witnessed many a commanding performance from sprinting aces of yesteryear, this season's renewal brings together three key formlines.
First up the 2000 Guineas. The first Classic of the season has worked out tremendously with most of the best three-year-olds graduating from it. Runner-up Kingman went on to win the Irish Guineas and the St James's Palace Stakes, third-home Australia won the Derby and Irish Derby, and 10th-home The Grey Gatsby won the Dante and French Derby. However, the runs of Kingston Hill and Guineas winner Night Of Thunder against older horses in the Eclipse were perhaps a minor blow to the form last Saturday.
Two sprints at Royal Ascot in June were lit up by Edward Lynam-trained sprinters going by the name of Power, Sole and Slade.
The King's Stand could have up to five representatives in the July Cup, but can the five-furlong specialists land a blow over the stiff six? Sole Power has tried, and failed, at the distance before, but he has a lethal turn of foot and could be a threat to all if the cards drop right for him. Hot Streak isn't lacking for speed either, but his form in more demanding conditions gives some hope he has the requisite stamina for six furlongs.
Such an attribute has already been proven by the Diamond Jubilee 'three', with Slade Power bidding to uphold the form with Due Diligence and Aljamaaheer. All three have claims once again and they are all single-figure prices in the betting.
In a bid to help unravel the puzzle, Ben Linfoot revisits the video form archives, focusing on those three key races.
6. Noozhoh Canarias 22/1
One of my favourite features of the July Cup is the Guineas horses who didn't stay dropping back in trip for a crack at the top sprinters. There have been some success stories over the years - think Mozart and Dream Ahead - but those who have prospered over further sometimes simply don't quite have the speed - think Paco Boy. Speed shouldn't be a problem for Spanish flying machine Noozhoh Canarias, though, who has a touch of the Mozart's about him judging by his run in the Guineas. As you can see by the splits shown on the Racing UK video replay, he clocked 1m 12.64seconds for the first six furlongs in the Guineas, and that's not going full pelt as he still had the final two furlongs to negotiate. On this evidence he's an extremely exciting contender and it will be fascinating to see if he can burn off some quality older sprinters as well as fellow three-year-olds like Due Diligence and Hot Streak. Is he a bet at 6/1? Time to watch that Guineas effort again - it's fair to say the form hasn't worked out too badly.
1. Sole Power 5/1
3. Hot Streak 3/1 fav
7. Jack Dexter 20/1
13. Justice Day 66/1
15. Rex Imperator 25/1
With no Group One sprints over five furlongs between the King's Stand in June and the Nunthorpe in August, it's of no surprise that a posse of specialists over the minimum trip are set to try their hand in the July Cup. Unless there's significant rain at Newmarket, which would bring Jack Dexter into the equation, the two to concentrate on are Sole Power and Hot Streak who finished first and third at Royal Ascot. Of the two, I would conclude that Hot Streak is likely to be better suited over six furlongs. After all, he was second in a Middle Park at two and has proven himself in testing conditions over five. Sole Power has tried six furlongs on several occasions, but his three-length fifth in the July Cup last year was one of his better efforts. Still, it's very hard to put a line through him watching this video replay. Look at that devastating turn of foot. He's not stopping at the line either. If things fall right for him and his turn of foot is unleashed at the right time, he's a very dangerous proposition at double-figure prices.
1. Slade Power 7/2 fav
2. Due Diligence 5/1
3. Aljamaaheer 4/1
If you only watch one video replay ahead of the July Cup, make sure it's this one. The first three home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes are set to do battle again on the July Course and picking the bones out of this result isn't easy. Let's start with Slade Power, Edward Lynam's sprinter, who proved his effectiveness on fast ground whjen winning at Group One level for the first time in Berkshire. He raced over on the far side, just tracking the pace set by Astaire and Gordon Lord Byron, and he was travelling all over those two at the two-furlong marker before Wayne Lordan asked for his effort. When Due Diligence and Aljamaaheer challenged him late on, he seemed to pull out more and despite hanging left and slightly hampering the runner-up, perhaps the July Cup market isn't giving him the credit he deserves. After all, he's beaten Due Diligence and Aljamaaheer by one and a half lengths, yet is only a point shorter than DD in the betting. But if you watch the race again focusing on Due Diligence, you can see why he's chalked up at 4/1 to turn the tables and secure his own first Group One victory. Aidan O'Brien's colt raced virtually alone on the stands' side and had plenty of ground to make up on the far side group in the closing stages. That he got to within one and a half lengths - and he would've been closer but for the interference - was a remarkable effort, and, don't forget, this was just his sixth career start. With further improvement possible and considering Aidan O'Brien's record in the race, he is going to appeal to plenty. As for Aljamaaheer, I find it hard to reason how he can reverse form with Slade Power on Saturday, as he simply doesn't look to have that rival's speed. A length and a half is plenty to make up considering he ran on the same part of the track at Ascot, a track where he has consistently shown his best form too. The uphill finish on the July Course will suit Roger Varian's charge, but he could well be too far behind by the time they meet the rising ground judging by his admittedly limited form over six furlongs thus far.