Teal and Oxted up for the Cup again at Newmarket

Roger Teal is taking inspiration from England’s football team ahead of Oxted’s bid to become the first back-to-back winner of the Darley July Cup in over 60 years at Newmarket on Saturday.

In beating Denmark in extra time at Wembley on Wednesday, Gareth Southgate’s men became the first squad since the World Cup heroes of 1966 to reach a major final ahead of a mouthwatering Euro 2020 clash with Italy on Sunday evening.

Oxted is out to end an even longer wait for a sprinter to successfully defend the July Cup – with the Lester Piggott-ridden Right Boy the last horse to achieve that feat in 1959.

Oxted winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
Oxted winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

Teal said: “England finally got to the final the other night, so it does happen! Maybe it’s the year for long waits to end.

“It hasn’t been done since 1959, so let’s hope we can end that and England can do the same on Sunday.”

Oxted returns to the July course at the top of his game, having doubled his Group One tally in the King’ Stand at Royal Ascot last month.

Having had his enthusiasm tempered initially after Oxted was drawn on the far side in stall 16, Teal is more upbeat after the first three horses home in the six-furlong handicap on Thursday were drawn 16, 15 and 19 respectively.

“It gives us much more confidence now. It did boost us. When it first came out I thought ‘no, I don’t believe it, we’re drawn on the far side’,” he said.

“You can’t change it so you have to do the best from where you are. It just depends where the pace is. Hopefully there is pace around us. If not we’ll have to make our own.

“I don’t want any rain. It’s good to firm at the moment and hopefully that rain front stays away for Saturday.”

Rohaan shone in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot
Rohaan shone in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

Plenty of attention will surround the David Evans-trained Rohaan, who has progressed at a rate of knots this year and was last seen defying a big weight to win the Wokingham at the Royal fixture.

He had run in the valuable handicap as geldings are barred from the Commonwealth Cup – with connections left wondering what might have been, as Rohaan had beaten first past the post Dragon Symbol in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.

Evans said: “He seems fine. He just takes everything in his stride and it’s just another day out for him. If it rains it rains, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t – there’s nothing we can do about that. He’s been supplemented, so he’ll take his chance.

“Looking at the handicaps on the first day the draw looks OK, but we’ll see what happens on the day. You need luck in all these races – he got it at Ascot and hopefully he’ll get it again.”

Dragon Symbol (left) in the Commonwealth Cup
Dragon Symbol (left) in the Commonwealth Cup (David Davies/PA)

As well as Dragon Symbol, Archie Watson can also call on another Royal Ascot runner-up in Glen Shiel, who only found Dream Of Dreams too good in the Diamond Jubilee.

“He (Dragon Symbol) is not technically a stakes winner, but he is probably very unfortunate not to be unbeaten,” said Watson.

“He is still very much learning on the job. He ran a huge race at Ascot and he has proven himself to be a proper Group One horse.

“Things get serious when the three-year-olds step up against the older horses and I just hope he can continue to progress.

“On the balance of form he has got a very strong chance on Saturday.”

Of Glen Shiel, he added: “He ran a huge race at Ascot. He clearly just needed his first run back in the Greenlands at the Curragh and he tightened up for that. He obviously handled the soft ground well at Ascot, as did the winner, but he ran another very big race.

“The ground is not going to be as soft as his Ascot runs, but he ran a very good race on better ground in France last year when he was just getting the feel of things as a sprinter and I’m sure he can be just as effective on better ground.”

Starman winning the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York racecourse
Starman winning the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York racecourse (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Ed Walker’s Duke of York Stakes winner Starman arrives fresher than most, having been taken out of the Diamond Jubilee due to the rain-softened ground.

Walker said: “He’s in great nick and looks a picture at the moment – he’s an impressive looking hors.

“We were gutted to have missed Ascot. For me this horse is so exciting, but he only does what you ask at home. You could work him with a 60-rated horse or with the Derby winner and he’d go just the same with his nose in front.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong bar that one run on bad ground and I just don’t know how much is up his sleeve. Only he can answer that question and hopefully he does that this weekend.”

Frankie Dettori is praying Extravagant Kid can finally provide him with a first victory in the race.

The six-furlong showpiece is the only British Group One that has so far eluded the 50-year-old – a statistic he is keen put right aboard Brendan Walsh’s American speedball, who was two lengths behind Oxted when third in the King’s Stand.

Dettori said: “There are better horses in the race, but he (Extravagant Kid) is the best I could get.

“Brendan has confidence that six furlongs will suit him, but Oxted thrashed me in the King’s Stand. It will be very hard to reverse that form, but with 19 runners, you never know what is going to happen.

“I think I’ve had four seconds in the July Cup – I’ve had a few goes at the race!

“It’s sad that I’ve been in Newmarket since 1985, it’s our biggest race apart from the Guineas and I’ve never managed to win it.

“It’s quite bizarre really – I’ve won everything else around the world. I’ve been knocking on the door, (but) I am 50 and I haven’t got forever, so every year is precious.

“We’ll give it another go on Saturday.”

Godolphin's Creative Force
Godolphin’s Creative Force (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Charlie Appleby has high hopes for Creative Force and Glorious Journey.

The former has been a revelation in winning all four starts this year, most recently in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting, while Glorious Journey arrives on the back of victory in the Criterion Stakes over seven furlongs of the July course.

Appleby said: “I think we’ve got two live shots really.

“We’ve got the young pretender there in Creative Force. He’s been a model of consistency all year, starting off in handicaps at the Craven meeting, and he’s shown versatility over six and seven furlongs and quick ground and soft ground.

“He comes into the race in great order. It’s a very competitive race on paper, but he’s not going to look out of place and I’m excited to see him run against the older horses.

“Glorious Journey is part of the furniture at Moulton Paddocks. Every year he’ll pick up some nice prizes for you and he goes into the race in very good form – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so well.

“He really is in great nick. Coming here a couple of weeks ago gave him a nice bit of confidence and that’s what you need going into these Group One races.”

Miss Amulet finishing second in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes
Miss Amulet finishing second in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The only Irish-trained runner in the field is Ken Condon’s outsider Miss Amulet, who drops back in distance after beating only one home in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

“Her season really hasn’t got going due to the ground. With the Irish Guineas on our doorstep it was the last chance of a Classic so we let her run, but the ground was very testing. Hopefully the ground will be more in her favour on Saturday,” said Condon.

“She’s very like last year in that she is very undemonstrative at home, but she is in very good form. She’s fit and she’s healthy.

“It will be a very competitive field and she’ll be a big price, but some of her form from last year is working out very well. It remains to be seen has she trained on, but physically she has done well and we are looking forward to it.”

Watson’s stable stars all set for July Cup

Archie Watson is struggling to split his two runners in the Darley July Cup as the three-year-old Dragon Symbol clashes with stablemate Glen Shiel for the first time.

Dragon Symbol was involved in a controversial finish at Royal Ascot when he was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup only to lose the race in the stewards’ room to Campanelle.

Glen Shiel was also second at Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee, a return to the form which saw him win there on Champions Day last season.

“I think we know where we are at with Glen Shiel, because he can win these Group Ones and he is consistent at his level, which is more than enough to win a July Cup under the right circumstances,” said Lambourn trainer Watson, looking forward to Saturday’s Group One showpiece at Newmarket.

“I would say with Dragon Symbol, we don’t really know where his peak is yet. I’d say they ran similar races on the figures at Ascot, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see either horse finish in front of the other because they are both high-class sprinters.

“It is an incredibly strong race, though – you have all the strands of form coming together. You have got Oxted coming back up from five furlongs; you have got Dragon Symbol from the Commonwealth Cup, Rohaan from the Wokingham and Glen Shiel and Starman.

“It is probably the most competitive race of the season so far – and it is great to be involved. I would love to win the race, and we go there with two good chances.”

Commonwealth Cup result unchanged following appeal

Connections of Dragon Symbol have lost their appeal against the decision of the Ascot stewards to award the Commonwealth Cup to Campanelle.

The pair fought out a thrilling finish to the Group One contest at the Royal meeting, with Oisin Murphy steering Dragon Symbol to a head victory over the Frankie Dettori-ridden Campanelle.

But Dragon Symbol made contact with Campanelle on more than one occasion during the final furlong and a half, with the stewards deeming the interference significant enough to merit reversing the placings.

Dragon Symbol’s owner Yoshiro Kubota and trainer Archie Watson opted to contest that decision via a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing, which took place on Thursday morning.

The panel viewed recordings of the race from a variety of positions, including head on, side on and from behind the field, as well as hearing extensive evidence from Dettori and Murphy, plus a brief submission from Watson.

In his evidence, Dettori explained he felt there were three instances of contact in the race, that the interference had caused Campanelle to lose her balance and combined with Dragon Symbol’s “intimidation” he had been “unable to win the race” as he was taken off his his true line and “had no chance of keeping my horse straight”.

Dettori was asked by Louis Weston, representing the BHA, to estimate the distance the interference cost his mount and he said: “It’s hard to say, but approximately 15 metres.”

Frankie Dettori at the Commonwealth Cup trophy presentation
Frankie Dettori at the Commonwealth Cup trophy presentation (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Graeme McPherson, for Dragon Symbol’s connections, contested that opinion, suggesting the distance was more in the region of six or seven metres, although all sides agreed Campanelle had moved across by around six horse widths.

Dettori also agreed he had not had to stop riding during the interference, but said his horse had been “intimidated” and “taken off balance” by the incidents.

In a post-race interview on the day, Murphy reported Dettori had said Dragon Symbol was the best in the race, but Dettori insisted Murphy was mistaken.

He said: “There was a conversation, he possibly misheard me or misinterpreted, but I did not say that.”

Murphy reiterated during his evidence the conversation did take place, although he could not recall if it occurred before or after going into the stewards’ room when pressed on the timing.

He said: “After the race, Frankie going into the stewards’ inquiry, he didn’t say to me either way he felt he was going to win the race in the stewards’ inquiry, but he did say to me ‘sorry kid, this is horse racing, you were on the best horse but that’s life’.”

Oisin Murphy celebrates aboard Dragon Symbol before the placings were reversed
Oisin Murphy celebrates aboard Dragon Symbol before the placings were reversed (David Davies/PA)

Murphy outlined in his evidence that he “didn’t want to hit the front too soon” and was mindful of conditions on the day, but “the acceleration he showed when given a little squeeze saw him go from a length or two behind to half a length in front in a short period of time, he showed a real burst”.

Murphy further stated that before he asked his mount for maximum effort, Dragon Symbol drifted right and “almost put the brakes on having gone clear”, the rider saying his mount had “leaned on (Campanelle) fractionally” before “running straight and true again”.

He also added he had no recollection of a third instance of contact, with the last interference occurring more than 100 metres from the line, with Campanelle not heading him inside the final half furlong and feeling his horse was “good value” for the winning distance, with something “still to give while Campanelle had given her all”.

During some sparky exchanges with Weston – who accused the rider of being “argumentative” – Murphy admitted to careless riding – for which he received an uncontested four-day ban – but felt the subsequent interference had not affected Campanelle’s ultimate performance, adding he felt she “had every chance to win the race”.

During his evidence, Watson outlined how inexperienced Dragon Symbol was, progressing in a “very short period of time” and having his first race in front of a crowd of “more than stable staff and connections”.

He added that Dragon Symbol does not hang at home and had not shifted in previous races.

Archie Watson, trainer of Dragon Symbol
Archie Watson, trainer of Dragon Symbol (Simon Cooper/PA)

Having considered all the evidence, the panel, which comprised of chairman HH Brian Barker QC, Tim Etherington and Steve Winfield, dismissed the appeal but the Dragon Symbol team will have their deposit returned.

Written reasons for the panel’s decision will be provided in due course, but in summing up Barker said: “We have given careful attention to the rules and guidelines and taken great care to consider the factual matters and arguments placed before us.

“Our conclusion is that the stewards did come to the right conclusion and that the appeal fails.

“In our view this was absolutely a debatable appeal, something which should have been given careful consideration and in our view the deposit should be returned.”

Appeal lodged against Dragon Symbol decision

Trainer Archie Watson has lodged an appeal against Dragon Symbol’s demotion from first place in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Dragon Symbol passed the post a head in front of Campanelle in last week’s Group One sprint, but the placings were reversed by the Ascot stewards after an inquiry.

The British Horseracing Authority’s independent disciplinary panel appeal hearing is set to take place next Thursday, July 1.

Campanelle was awarded the race, therefore striking for a second successive year at Royal Ascot for American trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Frankie Dettori.

The stewards concluded that interference in the last furlong and a half “had improved Dragon Symbol’s placing” and “the distance lost by Campanelle, who was taken notably off her intended line and bumped on a minimum of two occasions, equated to more than the head by which she was beaten”.

In a BHA release on Thursday afternoon, it was also noted that Dragon Symbol’s jockey Oisin Murphy will not appeal against his four-day suspension for careless riding.

Murphy in pole position for top Ascot rider after day full of ups and downs

Racing’s ups and downs were demonstrated perfectly when Oisin Murphy turned despair into euphoria in a dramatic hour at Royal Ascot on Friday.

The champion jockey had every reason to be at rock bottom after losing the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room, having finished first past the post on the Archie Watson-trained Dragon Symbol.

However, there was no time to dwell on what might have been in what was the first of two Group One races on the card.

The six-furlong showpiece was awarded to Campanelle, ridden by racing’s number one superstar, Frankie Dettori, and trained in America by Wesley Ward, who loves coming to England, especially for the Royal meeting.

But Murphy showed why he is at the top of his profession by putting that reverse to the back of his mind and turning his attention to the next Group One straight afterwards.

Joy for Oisin Murphy after Dragon Symbol quickly turned to despair
Joy for Oisin Murphy after Dragon Symbol quickly turned to despair (David Davies/PA)

Nothing was going to stop him giving the Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free the perfect ride in the Coronation Stakes. Not even the officials could take that triumph away from him.

“Welcome to horse racing and I suppose that’s what makes it so exciting,” said Murphy when asked about the turbulent hour he had just gone through.

“I didn’t give the inquiry much thought. I went into the stewards’ room knowing I was on the best horse, but it didn’t go my way.

“I’m very disappointed for the connections of Dragon Symbol. I hope he’ll have his day in the sun. Sorry to the Japanese fans and to Archie Watson’s team, and well done to Wesley Ward. The horse finished the race in front, but it wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully we were able to make amends.

“I said to my valet when he put his hand around me ‘there’s no place for tears in here. There are far worse things going on in the world, we’re in the entertainment industry, and I’m steering these marvellous animals and keep looking forward to the next one’.

“It’s great for Andrew Balding and Park House Stables. It’s three Oscar winners for them this week. I’m over the moon for them.”

The weather played a part in Alcohol Free’s win as the heavy rain that jeopardised the meeting taking place resulted in the stalls being moved to the far side of the round course, making a seemingly disadvantageous draw in 10 a favourable one.

“I didn’t get a chance to stress ahead of Alcohol Free – Andrew is very good to me. He never ties me down to instructions. I felt if he relaxed she’d win. She had a good trip and it was fantastic.

“I had a plan and I don’t know if he agreed with me, but he filled my with confidence when I told him what I was going to do and it paid off.”

“She jumped normal and what worried me was the clerk of the course decided to put the stalls on the far rail. That was fine, but then everyone wants to get to that rail, so it is congested and I was worried it was going to get congested.

“Alcohol Free relaxed, I stayed on the bit for as long as I could and given her pedigree, she was always going to handle the ground.”

Murphy had been part of the delegation that inspected the course at lunchtime before the day’s card got the go-ahead.

Oisin Murphy found himself on the wet Ascot turf after Alcohol Free's victory
Oisin Murphy found himself on the wet Ascot turf after Alcohol Free’s victory (Steven Paston/PA)

And he had to pick himself up off the floor a second time as an excitable Alcohol Free threw him on to the muddy Ascot turf on pulling up after the winning line.

Even that did not affect his opinion of the inquiry, where he was handed a four-day ban for careless riding on Dragon Symbol (July 2, 4, 5, 6).

“It doesn’t matter what I felt about the stewards’ decision earlier. The stewards felt Campanelle deserved the race and well done to Wesley Ward,” he said.

The 25-year-old’s day got better. With his confidence sky high he completed a double with a supreme ride on Quickthorn for trainer Hughie Morrison in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.

Murphy goes into the final day of the five-day festival as the leading rider with four winners so far and odds-on to take the crown from Dettori.

“This armband normally belongs to Frankie. He’s usually top dog,” he said.

“Me, wearing this armband at Ascot, the top meeting of the year – as James Doyle says, it’s the Olympics of our sport.”

Campanelle awarded Commonwealth Cup in stewards’ room

Campanelle was awarded the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot following a dramatic stewards’ inquiry – having initially been beaten in a photo-finish by Dragon Symbol.

Winner of the Queen Mary 12 months ago, Campanelle was in the firing line throughout under Frankie Dettori and while all her rivals were seemingly feeling the pressure in behind, Wesley Ward’s filly was still travelling well.

However, suddenly Oisin Murphy’s mount Dragon Symbol (4-1) quickened smartly and headed Campanelle, with the two then pulling clear of the pack.

With Campanelle (5-1) drawing back alongside Dragon Symbol, Archie Watson’s three-year-old began to drift to his right, carrying the American across the track with him.

Murphy switched his whip into his right hand, getting his mount straightened up, and the two went at it hammer and tongs for the final half a furlong.

There was little between them as they flashed by the line together, with Dragon Symbol a head in front before the inevitable inquiry was called.

The stewards took their time before announcing the revised placing, with Ward in no doubt his filly deserved the victory.

Wesley Ward (left) celebrates after winning the Commonwealth Cup
Wesley Ward (left) celebrates after winning the Commonwealth Cup (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He said: “I said earlier if we were in the States or Kentucky, we’d be drinking champagne already. Both horses ran fantastic, you can take nothing away from them, they dug down deep and were only inches apart there.

“I think it was a validated result as far as racing in the States is concerned, they came all the way across the track. Archie Watson came over and shook my hand – he’s a true gentleman.

“She really is (good), especially being her first start of the year. For her to come since the Breeders’ Cup, on heavy ground and to get through it and to have a performance like that is a true testament to how good she is.

“I actually thought (the rain) boded well for her chances. We didn’t know if she would like this heavy ground but we knew that at least she did like the soft.

“Winning at Ascot, no matter how you get there, is special. These memories, especially with my children here, since the onset back in 2009 and to have my first winner, Strike The Tiger, take her to post is a very nice touch.

“(Ascot) has changed my life.”

On future plans, Ward added: “We’ll sit down with the owners. She had a really nice work on the July Course (at Newmarket), that (July Cup) might be back a little quick for an effort like today. I ran in the Maurice de Gheest in the past, she’s showed she has an affinity for that track and I think she’d do well on the surface.

“It’s very good spacing for her, so that may be something we discuss.”

Asked to compare Campanelle with his previous stars, Ward said: “Lady Aurelia was very very special and I also I had a champion in America that I own still to this day, Judy The Beauty, but she’s climbing right up if she’s not up there already!”

Frankie Dettori all smiles with the Commonwealth Cup trophy
Frankie Dettori all smiles with the Commonwealth Cup trophy (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Dettori – winning the 76th race of his career at the Royal meeting – said: “It is never nice winning a race in the stewards’ room. I feel sorry for Dragon Symbol’s connections that I took it off them. But in these conditions, when you are taken across about eight lanes, I got nudged three times, lost my momentum and got beaten a head, so the stewards felt they gave me the benefit of the doubt.

“I was coming back on the line, and it was a good effort by Campanelle and by the original winner, but I’m glad that we’ve got it. I feel very sad that I got it, but I had reason to believe that my filly was still the best on the day.

“Campanelle won the Queen Mary, she won the Prix Morny, and now she has won the Commonwealth. They keep on bringing horses here and I’m always delighted to ride winners for Wesley.

“It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth because I didn’t win outright, but that’s the way things go – it’s one lucky one that I got.”

Murphy gained swift compensation by winning the following Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free, but admitted his disappointment at the stewards’ decision.

He said: “I’m very disappointed for the connections of Dragon Symbol, Archie Watson and his team, and Mr Kubota. I think there was a massive Japanese interest and unfortunately the horse finished the race in front, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“It doesn’t really matter what I feel, the stewards felt Campanelle deserved the race.

“I’m thrilled for Wesley Ward, he brought over a huge team. In fact, in his own words, Dragon Symbol was the best horse in the race, so does anyone else need an opinion? I don’t think so.”

Rohaan delivers narrow Sandy Lane success for David Evans

Rohaan continued his progression when narrowly holding off Dragon Symbol in the Casumo Bet10Get10 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.

The three-year-old had made startling strides on the all-weather since joining David Evans from George Scott in the winter.

Rated just 55 when winning at Newcastle in December, he proved he was just as good on turf when winning the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot last time out, taking his mark up to 106.

Rohaan changed ownership in the week and running in the colours of Chris Kiely Racing, he hit the front under Shane Kelly entering the final furlong, having been last at one stage.

It was an eyecatching move, but Archie Watson’s previously unbeaten Dragon Symbol got going down the middle of the track under Adam McNamara and began making ground with every stride.

For Rohaan’s connections and his supporters, though, the line came just in time and he held on by a nose to win at 33-1. Umm Kulthum ran on for third.

Evans said: “I don’t know why he was that price, because the form was there.

“Soft ground, fast ground – he’s a class horse, but nobody seems to realise it.

“He can’t go in the Commonwealth Cup, because he’s a gelding. He’s entered in the Wokingham, but he’ll get a penalty for that now – but it doesn’t really matter after that.

“This was the logical race to go for, rather than Ascot anyway.

“He’s probably had a rushed prep this last week to get here. But it’s all worked out well.”