Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to the Darley July Cup and settles on a 25/1 chance who looks capable of making a name for herself.
Recommended bets: Darley July Cup, July 13
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It’s a wide-open Darley July Cup a little under a fortnight from the July Festival highlight, with question marks over one or two of the market leaders, and the temptation is to take a close look at Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-olds.
O’Brien has won the race four times in total, three of which represented the Classic generation including last year’s victor U S Navy Flag.
He was bouncing back after a below-par run at Royal Ascot and the obvious one – from O’Brien’s sextet currently engaged - to try to emulate him is Ten Sovereigns. The No Nay Never colt could certainly leave his Commonwealth Cup effort behind to make current July Cup odds of 12/1 look generous.
He was even-money favourite at Ascot and, given he'd been trained all winter for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket where he appeared not to stay, might just sharpen up for his first outing since the end of September when taking his six-furlong record to a perfect 3-3 with victory in the Group One Middle Park Stakes.
He's in the Nunthorpe at York and the Flying Five at the Curragh, so stretching him out trip-wise has definitely been abandoned and a tilt at the July Cup makes a lot of sense.
However, he hasn't really impressed with his high head-carriage and finishing effort in two outings as a three-year-old, while he has clear ground to make up on Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise. And on a line through Martyn Meade's horse, who tops the betting with most firms ahead of narrow Diamond Jubilee runner-up Dream Of Dreams, a case can be made for Ten Sovereigns' stablemates Fairyland and SO PERFECT (25/1 General).
Throw out Fairyland's two non-staying efforts in the Classics at Newmarket and the Curragh in May and you have a Group One winner (last year’s Cheveley Park Stakes) with a nice sprinting profile, and it’s not hard to envisage a stiff six furlongs at the July Course proving right up her street.
She ran with great credit dropped back to five in the King's Stand last month, beaten just three lengths when fourth to Blue Point.
There was no disgrace in finishing on the heels of fellow out-and-out speedsters Battaash, Soldier’s Call and Mabs Cross, and in addition Fairyland was sticking on quite well at the death, having hit a flat spot when the leaders initially quickened.
But at almost double the price So Perfect looks the one to be on as she has some rock-solid form which brings her right into the reckoning with those towards the head of the betting.
The Scat Daddy filly was kept busy at two but beat subsequent Moyglare winner Skitter Scatter at the Curragh before a fine half-length second behind Advertise in the Phoenix Stakes and a close – and staying-on - third to Fairyland in the Cheveley Park.
She finished ahead of the likes of Soldier's Call and Sergei Prokofiev when third in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and made a good start to the current campaign too.
She built on her head third to Dandhu in the Fred Darling (not ideally positioned throughout) to score in taking fashion over six furlongs at Naas, after which the Commonwealth Cup and King’s Stand were mooted as potential Royal Ascot targets.
Ultimately, she ended up taking one for the team in the Jersey Stakes back over seven furlongs and was a well-backed 4/1 shot on the day, but it didn’t work out well having travelled quite sweetly to the two-furlong pole.
She wasn’t unlucky by any means, but suffered a rough passage in the closing stages and it’s probably worth putting a line through the race as far as So Perfect's future prospects are concerned.
There are no guarantees she will run, of course, but that looks factored into the price, while it's worth noting O’Brien ran five in last year's edition of the July Cup.
There must be a real temptation to give So Perfect a proper crack at a big one over six furlongs on likely fast ground, the kind of scenario in which she thrived last summer, and in a race lacking an obvious star with Blue Point retired there looks to be plenty of upside in getting with a big-priced, three-year-old filly with form in the book and potential for further improvement.
Posted at 1000 BST on 02/07/19