First run in 1876, The July Cup is considered by many to be the 6f championship, and with names such as Green Desert, Soviet Star, Cadeaux Genereux, and Royal Academy, on the roll of honour, it is hard to disagree. Winning form at the distance has been of paramount importance, the only exception in recent years being the filly Fleeting Spirit, who had been runner up in a 6f Gp1.
With only seven 3yo’s collecting in the last twenty runnings, it can’t be said that the younger generation are having the best of it, but historically honours have been pretty evenly shared. The outstanding 3yo in this years renewal is undoubtedly the Charlie Hills trained Muhaarar. By the outstanding sire Oasis Dream, he is a product of his owner, Sheik Hamdan’s, Shadwell stud.
Muhaarar had a fine two year old career, which included a win in the 6f Gp2 Gimcrack Stakes, and a third in the 6f Gp1 Middlepark. He surprised many when winning the 7f Gp3 Greenham stakes on his reappearance, but then blotted his copybook when finishing 8th in the French Guineas. Excuses were made due to his wide draw, but, wisely returned to sprinting, he has been a revelation. In the newly inaugurated Gp1 Commonwealth Stakes, a 6f contest confined to 3yo’s at Royal Ascot, where held up off the pace, Muhaarar came with a devastating run in the final furlong to go clear, beating the high class Limato by 3 3/4L, with Saturday’s rival, Anthem Alexander, a further 3/4L back in third, in a time faster than the following days Golden Jubilee Stakes. A repeat performance at the weekend must give him great prospects of emulating his sire, who won this in 2003.
Chris Waller must have been a bemused and disappointed man following the defeat of his Australian champion, Brazen Beau, in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, where amazingly his rider Craig Williams chose to race all alone on the stand side. Considering he had nothing to run with he ran a marvellous race to finish second, 1/2L behind Undrafted, with Saturday’s opponent, Astaire 1 3/4L back in third. He has been twice a winner at the highest level over the distance in his native Australia, on the last occasion ( March 14th) in a blindingly fast time. One slight negative is that due to the vagaries of the breeding seasons between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, he is classified as a 4yo ( despite being only 5 months older than Muhaarar) and has to concede the weight for age 6lbs. However with James Doyle now in the plate, and sporting the Godolphin colours for the first time, this outstanding sprinter is going to take all the beating at the weekend.
David O’Meara pulled off a minor miracle when winning the Gp1 sprint at Haydock with the then 3yo, G Force last September. He has been disappointing in his three races since, but two of them have been at Ascot, a course that may well have not suited him. His other run was in the 5f Temple Stakes at Haydock where he met all sorts of trouble in running and finished 5th. His brilliant young trainer reports that the “engine is still intact” so returned to 6f on Saturday, it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.
Richard Fahey’s 4yo gelding Eastern Impact obviously enjoys the East Anglian air as three .of his four wins have been at headquarters. He beat last Saturday’s talented Windsor winner, Huntsman’s close, on his reappearance at Newmarket in May, but then failed to get in a blow behind Tropics at Windsor. However his close 4th in a Gp3 at Newcastle (June27) was more encouraging, so in the hands of R.Fahey, who won this with a similar type, Maysoon, three years ago, is considered.
The unlucky horse in the Newcastle race was undoubtedly Michael Appelby’s 4yo gelding Danzeno. Slowly into his stride, under a less than inspired ride from Andrew Mullen, despite stumbling after 2f, he finished 3rd, behind Aeolus and Saturday’s opponent, Mattmu. Frankie Dettori takes over riding duties at the weekend, so at odds of 20/1 he could represent some e.w. Value.
Another whose sire won the race is the Michael Lynam trained Anthem Alexander. By Starspangledbanner, who won the 2010 renewal, his 3yo daughter is proving to be a super game and talented racehorse. She ran a great race when finishing third to Muhaarar at Royal Ascot, but on paper her prospects of reversing the form look remote. However Lynam, who is such a master trainer of sprinters feels that perhaps the Ascot race had come too soon following her reappearance victory at Naas eighteen days earlier, and expects things to be closer on Saturday. It is worth pointing out that fillies and mares have a poor record in the race, with only two succeeding in the last thirty years, so perhaps a place is the best that can be hoped for.
Danger: Brazen beau.