Ben Linfoot is our man at the course at Newmarket’s July Festival this week and here he lists 10 things he’s looking forward to seeing.
Watching for Leger clues in Bahrain Trophy
When: Thursday 1.50 | Racecard & free video form
The Bahrain Trophy over 1m5f kicks off the July Festival and nine three-year-olds go to post this year with seven of them (the other two are geldings) bidding to enhance their St Leger claims.
John Gosden’s Masked Marvel was the last horse to do the Bahrain Trophy-St Leger double back in 2011 and that July Course win kicked off a period of domination for the Clarehaven handler in this contest.
He won it four times in five years from 2011 to 2015, but if he is to win it this year, with Waldstern, he won’t be winning the Leger as the son of Sea The Stars has already lost his manhood.
Instead, Town Moor clues could come in the shape of Barbados for Aidan O’Brien, a horse that was second in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, and perhaps Michael Bell’s Eagles By Day who is interesting stepping up in trip.
Another son of Sea The Stars, his dam is Missunited, a fine race mare who won the Saval Beg Stakes and Lillie Langtry Stakes on the Flat (she was also second in the Gold Cup at Ascot) while she was a four-time winner over timber including the Galway Hurdle.
The extra distance could well suit Eagles By Day, then, and his King Edward VII Stakes third at Royal Ascot makes him a standout contender on form as well.
The return of Visinari in July Stakes
When: Thursday 2.25 | Racecard & free video form
Mark Johnston wouldn’t really be associated with lightly-raced horses but he’s been patient with Visinari ever since he stormed onto to the two-year-old scene on the July Course on June 8.
Kept in his box for Royal Ascot, an eagerly-anticipated second run will be forthcoming in the Tattersalls July Stakes on Thursday with connections opting to keep him at six furlongs for now.
He certainly looked to be equipped with plenty of speed judging by his blockbusting debut, an all-the-way three-and-a-half length win drawing comparisons with Calyx who had won the same novice stakes 12 months previously.
Bred for further judging by the dam’s side of his pedigree, he’s clearly inherited plenty of speed from his sire, Dark Angel, so it’s not really a surprise to see him stick to six for now keeping the option of going up to seven later in the year.
It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on against Archie Watson’s Guildsman, a horse not short of speed himself and one that wasn’t beaten far in third in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Seeing if the Mojito team can land another plunge
When: Thursday 3.00 | Racecard & free video form
William Haggas’ horses continue to be in great form and he landed a touch for owner Fiona Carmichael with Mojito in the Coral Challenge at Sandown on Saturday.
Absent for 637 days and running for the first time since being gelded, he was backed into 4/1 favouritism after sustained support and made all under Frankie Dettori for an easy win.
Haggas and Carmichael team up again with Aplomb in Thursday’s big handicap at Newmarket, the bet365 Handicap for three-year-old sprinters, and he prepped for this assignment with an easy win at Nottingham on June 17.
Watch the video replay here and you’ll see the trouble in-running he found that day, but look how strongly he finishes off his race and a 5lb rise suddenly looks fairly lenient even in this much tougher contest.
A bit of cut in the ground would be ideal for him – he might get it as well looking at the forecast – and if he does it would be no surprise to see Haggas land another big touch in the Mojito colours.
Masar bidding to regain the winning thread
When: Thursday 3.35 | Racecard & free video form
It’s a massive day for Masar on Thursday.
A Derby winner kept in training at four, after a setback at three, is a rarity and connections didn’t keep him training to contest a couple of Group Twos.
Obviously he had excuses for his Hardwicke defeat having almost unseated James Doyle coming out of the stalls, but with that run under his belt it’s now or never for the son of New Approach.
The Princess of Wales’s Stakes is a good race by Group Two standards, but it should be meat and drink to a Derby winner and Charlie Appleby won’t be thinking about anything but victory.
Hopefully he can pass the test before dining at the top table again. It would be great to see him win with authority on his inevitable way to competing in a Group One sometime soon.
Mark Johnston and the bet365 Handicap
When: Friday 1.50 | Racecard & free video form
Mark Johnston, Mark Johnston, Mark Johnston, Mark Johnston, Jeremy Noseda, Mark Johnston. Those are the winning trainers of the last six renewals of the bet365 Handicap over 1m2f, the race that opens the second day of the July Festival.
Johnston has three possibles at the six-day stage and all of them are interesting for differing reasons.
Dark Vision has come down 10lb since his Champagne Stakes defeat as a two-year-old and is looking well-handicapped off 103 now. He stayed on for eighth in the Britannia and has yet to run over 10 furlongs (he’s bred for it, on his dam’s side at least).
Oasis Prince is going the other way in the handicap, improving to a career-high 96 on the back of a neck win at Yarmouth last time out. He too has yet to run over 10 furlongs and he too could find improvement at the trip judging by his pedigree.
And then there’s The Trader, proven over 10 furlongs, in form terms at least, even if he is winless over the trip. He’s been gelded since wandering under pressure when beaten into second at Epsom last time out.
With a trio of intriguing contenders, it would be no surprise to see Johnston continue his love affair with this race.
Trophy hunters trying to enhance Sky Bet Ebor claims
When: Friday 3.00 | Racecard & free video form
It looks a potentially high-class renewal of the bet365 Trophy on Friday with the 114-rated Weekender topping the weights at the six-day stage.
Runner-up in last season’s £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor, he could well bid to go one better in this year’s £1,000,000 race and he’s not the only one in this contest that will be eyeing the mega pot on the Knavesmire.
A handful of other Frankels could bid to throw their hat into the Ebor ring including stablemate Ben Vrackie, Ian Williams’ The Grand Visir, Simon Crisford’s Outbox and Hugo Palmer’s Collide.
It looks a race we can learn plenty from and garnering some attention will be Secret Advisor, Godolphin’s son of Dubawi who has been well backed for this race in recent days.
He was disappointing at Royal Ascot on the back of a long absence having being gelded during his time off, but market support suggests he’s come forward an awful lot for the outing.
A winner of the Melrose as a three-year-old, we know he can perform well at the trip and he’s one of many that could enhance their Ebor credentials in what looks a key trial for the race.
Haggas’ Master plan in the Falmouth
When: Friday 3.35 | Racecard & free video form
It feels like a below-par renewal of the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes and with that in mind it looks a golden opportunity for One Master to win her second Group One.
A winner of the Foret last autumn, the Fastnet Rock mare has run some good races in defeat since including at the Breeders’ Cup and in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last time.
William Haggas’ charge looked to have made a winning move in that race before being collared by Lord Glitters and Beat The Bank (see tweet below) and on this quicker track back against her own sex she’ll have a favourite’s chance.
The main danger could come from the Classic generation, with three-year-olds having won the last three renewals.
Qabala looks the leading contender from this year’s Guineas fillies, her performance when third in the English 1,000 Guineas giving her a chance in receipt of the 9lb weight-for-age allowance, even if she will have to put a below-par effort in Ireland behind her.
Jaleel, if he runs, after form boosts
When: Friday 4.45 | Racecard & free video form
Qabala is trained by Roger Varian whose team remain in good nick and he might just have an interesting runner in the Porsche Centre Cambridge Handicap on Friday in the shape of Jaleel.
Jaleel was the last one out of the bet365 Handicap for three-year-old sprinters on the Thursday but hopefully he’ll turn up in the seven-furlong race on Friday where he’ll receive the 8lb weight-for-age allowance from his elders.
He won over the course and distance last time and the form looks hot, with the fourth-placed Jadeerah winning by over four lengths at Chelmsford subsequently while the sixth home Make A Wish won a good handicap at Sandown on Saturday.
A 3lb rise for Jaleel’s win looks lenient on those bits of evidence and if he turns up at the scene of his latest success this week he will be firmly on the radar.
Armory’s attempt to be Gustav Klimt II
When: Saturday 2.55 | Racecard & free video form
Saturday’s action is obviously headed by the Darley July Cup but the supporting card is good and the Group Two bet365 Superlative Stakes often throws up a good winner.
Two years ago Gustav Klimt put in a remarkable performance to get up under Ryan Moore and Ballydoyle have a colt that looks to be cut from the same cloth this time around.
Armory is by Galileo out of a Danehill Dancer mare, a similar pedigree to Gustav Klimt who is by the same sire and out of a Danehill mare.
Both came into this race on their third run and both won the same Curragh maiden on their second start having been beaten on debut.
While Gustav Klimt was hampered and won from an unlikely position in the Superlative Stakes, Armory has overcome adversity already having won despite serious trouble in-running last time.
Watch that replay below and you’ll see why he’s such a hot favourite for the Superlative. He could be a serious tool.
Seeing if O’Brien ‘does a Stravinsky’ with Ten Sovereigns
When: Saturday 4.40 | Racecard & free video form
Since the Darley July Cup was promoted to Group One status in 1978 there have been 19 three-year-old winners, a strike-rate of (almost) one every two years for the Classic generation.
The 6lb weight-for-age allowance can be a valuable one and this year’s three-year-old representation looks a strong one with Advertise, Ten Sovereigns, Fairyland, Pretty Pollyanna and So Perfect all potential runners against their elders.
Advertise looks the most obvious contender after his Commonwealth Cup win, but Ten Sovereigns only has two-and-a-half lengths to find on this very different track and he hasn’t had his ideal conditions yet this season.
By that I mean fast ground, the No Nay Never colt having encountered a Good to Firm surface just once in his life – when he won the Middle Park last September, a career best effort.
With an unsettled forecast he might well not get his ground again, but I don’t think it will take much for his three-year-old career to suddenly explode.
Aidan O’Brien has transformed a horse’s season in this race before and Ten Sovereigns does remind me a little of Stravinsky, a colt that had good form at two, a few relative disappointments early on at three before a first-time visor transformed his fortunes in this very race.
Headgear for Ten Sovereigns would be a very interesting shout. His sire, of course, won his first three races in blinkers. Ten Sovereigns doesn’t need to find much, but he needs to find something and a visor or blinkers could well be the answer.