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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”