In the midst of celebrating 350 years as the Home of Racing, Newmarket today open their doors to the three day Moet & Chandon July Festival, one of Flat racing’s most eagerly anticipated events.
The Group 1 Darley July Cup on Saturday is the undoubted highlight. The prestigious sprint is one of the most valuable and always attracts a high-class field. This year is no exception, and I’ll be taking a closer look at the race in tomorrow’s piece.
On Friday the fillies and mares take centre-stage with the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes. Run over a mile, with more than £100,000 going to the winner, the event has again attracted a sparkling field, though a number of high profile omissions have been announced in recent days.
One mare who sadly sustained a career ending injury on the gallops this week, is Euro Charline. Trained by Marco Botti for owners Team Valor, the five-year-old had finished runner-up in last year’s renewal, and had looked as good as ever when finishing second in her last two events, both at Group 1 level.
Barry Irwin, chief executive of US-based Team Valor, said “She's done a tendon breezing on the all-weather gallop, which last week took a lot of rain.”
She will now head to the Tattersalls sale in December, and her trainer paid tribute, saying: “Euro Charline was one of the best horses I have trained. She was not the luckiest horse and a couple of her seconds very well could have been firsts. While her family is not out of the top drawer, she will prove popular with breeders at the sale because she looks the part.”
Another set to miss Friday’s showpiece is the classy three-year-old Nemoralia. With ground conditions in her favour, the decision appeared a little strange, but her trainer Jeremy Noseda explained when he spoke to At The Races, saying: “We're very much looking towards going to the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on Sunday. I think she likes a flat track and the July Course, with that uphill finish, is not what she really wants. It looks like the Jean Prat is a race she can be extremely competitive in.”
It’s a shame that the Newmarket racegoers will miss seeing Nemoralia. She looked an outstanding filly when scooting home at York in May. She then ran a terrific race at Royal Ascot, when finishing second in the Coronation Stakes, despite conditions being against her. Nevertheless, seven fillies are set to contest the Group 1 on Friday, and it remains a cracking looking renewal.
The race was won last year by Amazing Maria, and her trainer David O’Meara is expecting a season’s best performance, saying: “The current fast ground should suit her much better than what she has been encountering so far this season. It would be a big statement to say that she is still improving at the age of five, but I think that I have got her in similar form to what she was at this time last year. She is much better over a mile on fast ground and, although I couldn't say that she will beat Usherette, I am sure that the two will finish much closer on Friday.”
Usherette will be sent off a short-priced favourite after dominating displays in the Dahlia Stakes and then at Royal Ascot in the Duke of Cambridge. Andre Fabre’s filly will be looking to emulate both Giofra and Goldikova, who captured the race for France in recent years. Godolphin have swept all before them in recent weeks, and the improving four-year-old will take some beating.
Coolmore’s Alice Springs represents the strongest three-year-old form. Third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, she’s a hardy sort, and ran on well at Ascot having found plenty of trouble in running. The Falmouth is a race that has eluded Aidan O’Brien, and though he arguably has two better fillies in Minding and Ballydoyle, this filly is not without a chance in receipt of plenty of weight from her elders.