I usually go somewhat off-piste with my Wednesday piece, but I wanted to play my part in fuelling the fervour for Saturday’s thrilling Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
I’m a sucker for a sprint, and this could be as good as any we’ve seen in a long time. As in last week’s Eclipse, we have the intrigue of a clash of generations, but the added spectacle of Royal Ascot champions in opposition.
Caravaggio captured the Commonwealth Cup in stunning fashion, and is said to be the fastest Aidan O’Brien has trained. Yet to taste defeat in five career starts, he’s currently a short-priced favourite to uphold that unbeaten record. A powerhouse of a horse, the uphill finish at Newmarket looks tailor-made.
The Tin Man captured the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, and is a leading contender for older brigade. A hold-up horse with a potent turn of foot, he too should be suited by the course.
Speaking of his sprinting star, trainer James Fanshawe said: “The Tin Man is very well in himself. He did a piece of work on Saturday and, although he has never been a flashy work horse, he seems to have been nice and bright since then. It’s by accident that he’s never run at Newmarket before, it’s just the way that things have turned out, but he handles the Limekilns gallop here in Newmarket and that has a dip in it. The Darley July Cup is a great race. It will be interesting to see the three-year-olds taking on the older horses for the first time.”
Tom Queally rides The Tin Man, and said: “I am really looking forward to the Darley July Cup. There are so many different factors at play going into the race and so many fancied horses, I think it’s going to be some spectacle. It’s a fascinating renewal and will potentially go down as one of the top July Cups. Having the different generations meeting for the first time turns it into a real conundrum with everyone trying to work out how good the three-year-olds are.
“The Tin Man is a fun horse to ride, he likes to take aim at the opposition and has a devastating turn of foot. His attitude and overall demeanour are a testament to James and his staff. I was very impressed with him at Royal Ascot. He quickened well and then edged ever so slightly left which told me that he was doing it easier than he was letting on.”
He got the better of Limato that day, though Henry Candy’s stable-star is likely to improve a fair amount having missed work through injury. The five-year-old was an impressive winner of this race 12 months ago, and should the ground stay on the quick side, he’ll be as tough as any to beat.
Harry Bentley is back on board, and can hardly wait. Speaking last week, he said: “Obviously I am delighted to get back on him as I have ridden him six times before. He gave me a fantastic day at Newmarket last year and another great one at Chantilly in the Prix de la Foret. He is the best horse I have ridden. I knew Ryan Moore was going to ride Caravaggio if he runs, and in the back of your mind you are hoping you might get that phone call. I thought he ran a great race at Ascot and you could not fault him. He is one of the main contenders and I think he has a massive chance.”
Tasleet split The Tin Man and Limato at Ascot, finishing with a fair old rattle. He had an interrupted campaign as a three-year-old, but looks a classy sprinter at four. He has form at seven furlongs, and as such, should relish the stiff finish on Saturday. He goes on any ground, as he proved in May, when romping to victory in testing conditions in the Duke Of York. Owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, connections will be hoping he can replicate the performance of Muhaarar, who took this race in 2015. He looks to be another major player.
Though beaten fair and square in the Commonwealth Cup, it would be unwise to dismiss the chances of Godolphin’s Harry Angel. He’s another hugely gifted three-year-old, and is likely to be heading the field into the dip. A fearsome pack will be in hot-pursuit, and the finish could prove an absolute thriller.
More than just a clash of the generations, this July Cup sees potential sprinting goliaths collide. I for one cannot wait for the sparks to fly. We’re set for a cracker.