Numerous exciting young sprinters are among the 36 horses entered for the Group 1 Darley July Cup.
Run over six furlongs on Newmarket’s July Course, the £500,000 event takes place on Saturday July 9, and is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series. It’s the first opportunity for three-year-old sprinters to take on their more experienced elders.
Last year’s renewal went to Commonwealth Cup winner Muhaarar, flying the flag for the three-year-olds and defeating seven-year-old Tropics in a fabulous finish.
Quiet Reflection took last week’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, with Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC back in third, and they are two eye-catching entrants for the younger brigade. There is every chance that Ballydoyle will also send Air Force Blue into battle, as he looks to rebuild that lofty reputation.
Karl Burke spoke with great enthusiasm at the prospect of running his outstanding filly, saying: “We would like to run Quiet Reflection in the Darley July Cup as it is one of the world’s top Group 1 sprints. It’s hard to know how strong the Commonwealth Cup form will prove but it’s encouraging that last year’s winner turned out to be a superstar. The fact that only half a length separated the first five home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is a positive in terms of wanting to take them on.”
The trainer added: “We do have to be mindful that Quiet Reflection has been on the go for a long time and she would need to be 110 per cent to run. But there is nothing else for her, over six furlongs at least, for eight weeks after the Darley July Cup, so that gives us scope to give her a bit of a break after Newmarket. Every time she’s run, there has been some give in the ground, so her ability to handle anything quicker is an unknown. If it came up fast at Newmarket that would come into consideration.”
It’s hard to imagine that the filly with such a beautiful action would have any problems coping with a faster surface. Indeed, quick ground could well play to her strengths as she possesses such a destructive change of gear.
Four of the first five home in the Diamond Jubilee are entered for the Newmarket showpiece. Henry Candy’s Twilight Son looks to build on the Royal Ascot win, though Candy will also be on weather watch, and should the ground turn fast, he may well rely on Limato, who is set to drop back in trip following his fourth place finish in the Lockinge Stakes back in May.
Charlie Hills remains positive in his piece for the Weekender, with regards to his classy grey sprinter Magical Memory. Missing the break and tracking the wrong horse were cited as reasons for a fourth place finish at Ascot. Hills also said: “Frankie came in and blamed the ground. He’s run a great race in defeat, and I think he’s got a huge chance in the July Cup.”
Hills could head for Newmarket with two bullets to fire. Cotai Glory ran a cracker in defeat behind Profitable in the King’s Stand last week. He finished powerfully that day, and the trainer again sounded bullish when saying: “I’d love to see what he can do on fast ground. He has such a daisy-cutting action that he’ll relish it quick.” His Hong Kong owners made the trip over for the royal meeting. They would certainly add an international flavour to proceedings.
Mongolian Saturday and Bobby’s Kitten may well give the race that international injection. One is trained in America by Mongolian national, Enebish Ganbat. I’ll let you guess which. Whilst the other has moved from America to be trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld.
The pair finished first and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint back in October, with Mongolian Saturday coming out on top. He wasn’t at his best in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot, but better ground at Newmarket and the fact he’ll strip much fitter should see him in a better light.
Any horse trained by Dermot Weld has to be accorded the utmost respect. Bobby’s Kitten won his first outing for the Irish handler at Cork in March. He’s no mug, having won the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in 2014. He’s by the outstanding American Stallion Kitten’s Joy. He’d be an intriguing addition to the Darley July Cup field.
It’s always a terrific race, won by sprinting giants, and I can’t wait to see it. Let’s hope the weather is kind, and all the leading contenders take their place at the start.