The three-day July Festival at Newmarket begins this afternoon. The event always attracts high-class thoroughbreds, with Saturday’s Darley July Cup the dazzling showpiece.
The meeting has been in existence since 1765, and takes place on the July Course. With a longer downhill portion than the Rowley Mile, the track is a haven for speedsters, though does still have the testing uphill furlong to the finish.
The Group Two July Stakes is one of the opening day highlights. It is the oldest surviving British event for juveniles, and is run over six furlongs. Open to colts or geldings, the race has been won by some ‘nifty’ sorts over the years. Green Desert took the 1985 renewal, and a year later captured the July Cup. He went on to become a prodigious stallion, producing outstanding sprinters.
One such speedster was Invincible Spirit, and he became the sire of the 2015 July Stakes winner Shalaa. Trained by John Gosden, the dynamic youngster became the top-rated British juvenile, capturing the Richmond Stakes, the Prix Morny and the Middle Park Stakes, during a stunning campaign. Beset by injury as a three-year-old, he never reached his full potential on the racecourse.
Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe, is one of the potential stars of today’s meeting, and will be looking to make it three from three in the July Stakes.
Always a star-attraction on the Flat circuit is Frankie Dettori. And he will be relishing his return to action, having spent a month on the sidelines due to an arm injury. He has a pair of exciting mounts in the day’s most prestigious renewals. Speaking of his return, he said: “I am very excited to be coming back in time for the Moët and Chandon July Festival. It’s been a long time, I’ve been out for a whole month. Newmarket is my home town and the meeting is one of the highlights of my year.”
Of the two horses, Dettori went on: “I could have had five or six rides on Thursday but I thought it was sensible to ease myself back into things with just a couple. My first ride is on Denaar. I was aboard when he won his first two races, then I think he let the Royal Ascot atmosphere get to him in the Coventry Stakes. The other one is Wings Of Desire (Princess Of Wales’s Stakes), who I finished fourth on in last year’s Epsom Derby. He’s so laid back that we have decided to try him in cheekpieces, as they might just help him concentrate.”
Denaar is trained by Richard Hannon, who along with his father accounts for five victories in the last seven renewals of the two-year-old showpiece. The horse is owned by Al Shaqab Racing, as was 2015 winner Shalaa.
Tomorrow’s highlight is the Group One Falmouth Stakes, a race that usually attracts some of the best fillies and mares at a mile. This year’s renewal has the added attraction of an entrant from leading German trainer Andreas Wohler. He has brought Delectation over for the prestigious event, and appears confident of a decent performance.
He said of the three-year-old: “Delectation is really well and I think that she is still on an upward curve. She will have to be if she is going to go close in the Falmouth Stakes, as it looks a really tough race. The faster the ground the better for her, as at Deauville [the French 1000 Guineas] she was beaten after a couple of furlongs because of the soft going. She is a lot better than her fourth placing in the German 1000 Guineas shows. She needs to be ridden from behind, and Dusseldorf is a tricky course to pull that off. I have had a winner at the July Course, but that was a long time ago, and this will be my first runner at the July Festival.”
Another filly likely to court plenty of admirers, is Ballydoyle’s exciting juvenile Clemmie. She is set to take part in the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, and looked mightily impressive last time when winning a Group three at the Curragh. The stable took the race last year with Roly Poly, who looks likely to go off favourite for the Falmouth.
Saturday’s highlight is undoubtedly a thrilling renewal of the Darley July Cup. Unbeaten Caravaggio takes on several classy older sprinters, including last year’s stunning winner Limato. Harry Angel will ensure a rapid pace throughout the six-furlongs, and it’s set to be an absolute cracker.
Three thrilling days of high-class racing is guaranteed. And Newmarket certainly know how to put-on a show.