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Starman proves class act in July Cup

Starman powered to victory for Ed Walker and Tom Marquand in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

Always held in the highest regard by his trainer – who took the brave decision not to run in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot when the heavens opened – the Duke of York Stakes winner went off 9-2 here and looked like he had a bit to do over a furlong out.

But once meeting the highest ground, Marquand’s mount found overdrive to beat favourite Dragon Symbol and defending champion Oxted by a length and a quarter and a short head in this famous Group One sprint.

Art Power, who had blazed a trail on the far side, was just behind in fourth place.

Walker, saddling his first Group One winner, said: “It’s great. It’s taken its time, but better late than never as they say.

“I always believed so much in this horse. I put a lot of pressure on myself and it’s great that belief has been vindicated.

“His only blip was on bad ground at Ascot last season and we’ve been proved to have made the right call in missing the Royal meeting.

“I hoped he’d win a Group One and we dreamed that he’ll be a sprinter of a generation.

“A horse that was going through the grades as quickly as he was, you have to dream.”

While normally unwavering in his faith of his stable star, Walker admitted to having some pre-race doubts ahead of his latest assignment.

“He was so professional at York and today I was really negative before the race. He was messing around (in the pre-parade ring) and if you’d spoken to me then I’d have been pretty doom and gloom,” the trainer added.

“You always dream with a horse like this. They’re all champions when they walk into the yard, but this horse has never let us down.”

The Lambourn handler has another smart sprinter on his hands in recent Group Three winner Came From The Dark, but he does not anticipate the pair locking horns.

Jockey Tom Marquand celebrates winning the July Cup on Starman
Jockey Tom Marquand celebrates winning the July Cup on Starman (David Davies/Jockey Club)

A potential next port of call for Starman could be the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 4.

Walker said: “Came From The Dark has to avoid this guy. In my mind, they’re not in the same league.

“He’s a very good horse, Came From The Dark, but this guy has that brilliance. Came From The Dark has got guts and battles it out.

“I think Came From The Dark is more of a five-furlong horse – whereas with this guy, it looks like six is the absolute minimum.

“We’ll look at the Sprint Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest.”

It was a special result, too, for Marquand, who was quick to praise Walker and the winner – and also William Haggas.

The rider said: “He was pretty exceptional and has confirmed what Ed has been saying all week. I’m not going to lie – even I was thinking ‘am I over-rating him a little bit?’. That confidence was justified today, and you have to put him in the top tier of sprinting in Europe after that.

“It was an incredible performance. The last few days everyone has been coming in saying it is one of the best July Cups we have seen for a good while. For a horse that has had six runs, I thought he showed relative signs of inexperience still.

“Ed’s comments a week ago were bold, and it is fantastic Starman has justified them today. You have to have seen something pretty exceptional at home to make you think like that. No doubt nerves were kicking in the last 24 hours, and that is why Ed might have found a few negatives – and he did get a bit warm and had other things on his mind.

“But he is a top-class racehorse – that turn of foot he showed up the hill was nothing short of top class.”

Marquand added he felt lucky to have the chance to ride the horse, and that Haggas played his part.

He explained: “Any Group One is special, as they are hard to win, especially on a day like today. I’m very fortunate I ride for the William Haggas stable a lot now. There was a conversation of where I go today. Primarily William is my biggest supporter, and he had horses all over the country – and good horses at that.

“It makes life pretty tricky when it comes to things like that, because loyalty is pretty hard to find in the game, and I’ve got that from William. Today I think it just came to the fore what a great trainer and person he is in that he let me come here and ride Starman, because he had some pretty important horses elsewhere.

“Days like this are hard to come by, and it is fantastic he knew the significance of it.”

Dragon Symbol (right) was second again
Dragon Symbol (right) was second again (David Davies/PA)

Oisin Murphy, who had steered Starman to victory at York, was this time on board Dragon Symbol.

First past the post in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot before being demoted to the runner-up spot after he was found to have interfered with American challenger Campanelle, Archie Watson’s charge again had to make do with minor honours.

Murphy said: “I’m thrilled for Ed Walker. I was given the choice and I picked the wrong one, but I’m thrilled for their team – and they’re having a fantastic season.

“I hope Dragon Symbol will get his day – we could well look to France next potentially for the Prix Maurice de Gheest.”

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.”

Oxted heads 19 declared for July Cup

Last year’s winner Oxted heads a field of 19 declared for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.

Roger Teal’s star sprinter bids to become the first horse since Right Boy in 1958 and 1959 to win the six-furlong showpiece in successive years.

Oxted showed he was back to his best when lifting the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, for his first success since he took this prize in 2020.

Heading the opposition in what looks one of the hottest renewals for years is Starman. Ed Walker’s Duke of York Stakes winner in May missed the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal meeting due to the soft ground.

Archie Watson has two strong contenders in Dragon Symbol and Glen Shiel, who were runners-up in the Commonwealth Cup and Diamond Jubilee Stakes respectively at the Royal meeting.

Other winners there going for Group One glory are Charlie Appleby’s Creative Force, winner of the Jersey Stakes, and Wokingham Handicap victor Rohaan.

Appleby also has Glorious Journey, while others in the mix include American raider Extravagant Kid, Art Power, Chil Chil, Supremacy and Brando. Kevin Ryan’s nine-year-old is making his fifth appearance in the race, having finished second, third, sixth and seventh in his four previous attempts.

Winner of the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night and third in the King’s Stand, Extravagant Kid will be ridden by Frankie Dettori for Brendan Walsh, the Cork native who is making a name for himself in America.

Walsh flew in from the States on Monday – and was pleased to be back in Newmarket, where he spent time working for Godolphin and Mark Wallace.

He said ahead of a race that forms another part of this year’s Qipco British Champions Series: “I was delighted with Extravagant Kid when I saw him. He’s done great over here and looks fantastic. I’d forgotten what a great environment Newmarket is for a horse and he’s thrived.

“He ran his race (in the King’ Stand) and we were very pleased to run third in a race like that. Maybe if he’d been drawn on the near side it might have helped, but I’ve no excuses. If he runs as good as that, or maybe a little better, I think it should put him in the mix.

“Frankie was keen to ride him again and there’s nobody better, so we look forward to it. He very rarely runs a bad race and he’s run with the best of them. He was only beaten a length or so in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year, from stall 14 of 14. That was an excellent run and having already won the Al Quoz over six furlongs we’ve had a very good year with him.

“We’ll probably go home after this, but if he holds his form we’ll prepare him for another go at the Breeders’ Cup.”

The four withdrawals at the 48-hour final declaration stage were Lope Y Fernandez, Ventura Rebel, Final Song and Thunder Moon.

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.”

Glen Shiel ‘in great form’ for July Cup assignment

Glen Shiel will be the first leg of what could be a famous Group One double attempt this weekend for owners Hambleton Racing, as he goes for gold in the Darley July Cup.

With his Archie Watson-trained stablemate Mehmento due to contest the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on Sunday, the syndicate members are certainly getting value for money.

In Glen Shiel’s case he arguably sets the standard at Newmarket on Saturday, having won on Champions Day last year and finished a narrow second in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.

“That was him right back at his best and I think he stripped a good deal fitter for his run in Ireland,” said Hambleton’s Simon Turner.

Glen Shiel was Hollie Doyle's first Group One winner
Glen Shiel was Hollie Doyle’s first Group One winner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s in great form at home, but obviously it looks a really good renewal this year.

“He’ll be there to do his best and hopefully run well. Needless to say we wouldn’t be too upset if we saw a lot of the possible rain fall, but Archie is adamant that he doesn’t need desperate ground to run very well.

“It’s going to be a big field and with the three-year-olds coming in it does look a really strong race, so it will be interesting to see how the younger ones match up against their elders.

“What we do know is that if it does rain it won’t affect us, whereas some of them might not be at their best.”

Mehmento impressed when winning at Epsom on Derby day
Mehmento impressed when winning at Epsom on Derby day (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Mehmento fared less well at Ascot when beaten in the Jersey Stakes – but had previously won a Listed race at Epsom, together with finishing second in the Greenham at Newbury.

“I suspect we’ll run Mehmento in France in the Prix Jean Prat over seven furlongs. I think it’s the plan,” said Turner.

“He does have other options, but at this moment Archie is leaning towards France.

“It’s an amazing weekend for us with two Group One runners – it’s what it’s all about.”

Starman could be champion in waiting for Walker this weekend

Ed Walker’s Starman is poised to take his place at the top of the sprint division when he lines up for the Darley July Cup.

The four-year-old is vying for favouritism in the Group One contest over six furlongs on Newmarket’s July course this Saturday.

Starman was last seen triumphing in the Duke of York Stakes at York, beating Naharr, Oxted and Summerghand in the process.

The performance was the bay’s first of 2021 and Walker was pleasantly surprised to see him strike first time out after a 207-day break.

Starman during his last performance in the Duke of York Stakes
Starman during his last performance in the Duke of York Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I was treating it as a prep race, I expected him to need the run and in a way was happy to get beaten as Ascot was the be all and end all,” he said.

“When he won like that and battled like he did, he certainly looked like he was going to tighten up and improve for the run.

“I’m not going to say he’ll be a stone better after York, but I’d like to say he’ll be better for that run.”

Roger Teal’s Oxted went on to take the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, a victory that further boosts the form of Starman’s York success.

“His form is solid, very solid, Oxted’s taken a bit of time to warm up this year, the Teals were a bit disappointed and now they’re rightly full of optimism again,” he said.

“He’s a very good horse, a two-time Group One winner, and just because we’ve beaten him doesn’t mean I don’t see him as a threat.”

Ed Walker has high hopes for Starman this weekend
Ed Walker has high hopes for Starman this weekend (Simon Cooper/PA)

Starman was also an intended runner in the King’s Stand, but a downpour over Ascot turned the going unfavourably soft and Walker was forced to withdraw him.

The weather left conditions at the Berkshire track similar to Champions Day last season, where the horse was beaten for the first and only time when finishing 14th of 19 rivals on soft ground in the British Champions Sprint Stakes.

“It was an easy decision, but brutal to have to make it. But he’s only been beaten once and that was on that track and in those conditions,” said Walker.

“It just felt like it would have been a brilliant mistake to make when all the horses that beat him on Champions Day were in there.

“I would have felt so stupid, any time you send any horse out into battle you risk injuries or disappointment and I just would have felt really stupid if he’d have been beaten six lengths again and only beaten two rivals and I had run him not liking the ground.”

Newmarket conditions are likely to be far less extreme, with the going at the July course currently described as good to firm and showers expected.

“It looks like it should just be nice ground,” Walker said.

“Worst case (scenario) good ground, probably a bit quicker than that if the rain doesn’t come, so there’s no excuses – may the best horse win.”

Starman winning at Lingfield on his racecourse debut
Starman winning at Lingfield on his racecourse debut (Mark Cranham/PA)

This weekend’s contest looks to be hugely competitive, with Starman and Oxted joined at the head of the market by Dragon Symbol – who was first past the post in a dramatic renewal of the Commonwealth Cup – and Jersey Stakes winner Creative Force, though Diamond Jubilee champion Dream Of Dreams is notably absent due to injury.

“It feels like a real championship race, you have all the best horses of the generation in there, but it’s a shame not to have the Diamond Jubilee winner there alongside the King’s Stand winner,” Walker said.

“Starman has got an opportunity to be the sprinter of his generation because he’s only got the one blip on his record, I’d love to think he could be the next Muhaarar.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong bar that run on bad ground, I just don’t know how much is up his sleeve – only he can answer that question and hopefully he does answer it on Saturday.”

Oxted primed for July Cup defence

Last year’s winner Oxted is among 23 confirmations for Saturday’s Darley July Cup at Newmarket – with Rohaan and Line Of Departure both supplemented.

Roger Teal’s stable star arrived for the race last year as something of an unknown quantity, but blitzed the opposition that day and has subsequently added the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot to his roll of honour

He is likely to face Ed Walker’s Starman, who had Oxted behind him when making a winning reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes in May.

Walker decided against running his big hope at Ascot when the ground turned soft and will be hoping for a dry week as his only defeat came on Champions Day last year when the ground was deep.

Archie Watson’s Dragon Symbol was involved in one of the most controversial races of the season to date at Ascot.

He was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup, but was adjudged to have caused enough interference to Wesley Ward’s Campanelle by the stewards to see the placings reversed. Connections lost their appeal against that verdict last week.

Watson also has another strong chance with Glen Shiel, winner of the Champions Sprint last season and a credible second in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot.

Dragon Symbol (right) was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup but lost the race in the Stewards' room
Dragon Symbol (right) was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup but lost the race in the Stewards’ room (David Davies/PA)

The winner of that race, Sir Michael Stoute’s Dream Of Dreams, will be missing this weekend due to a setback.

Andrew Balding’s Chil Chil has taken her form to a new level on her last two starts, winning a handicap at the Guineas meeting and the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle. Her trainer is another hoping for a dry week.

Balding said: “She will go for the July Cup if the ground is good or faster. She showed some pretty useful form last year when conditions were right and she was a little bit unfortunate on a couple of occasions. Beat The Bank, her brother, got better with age and it appears she is.

“It is a big step up in class, but she likes the (Rowley Mile) track at Newmarket and I don’t see why she won’t like this one, so why not have a go?

“She travelled strongly at Newcastle and I was impressed with the way she picked up in the second half of the race. She is clearly a filly at the top of her game. It would be nice if she could prove up to this level.”

Another stepping up in grade is David Evans’ Rohaan, the Wokingham winner who has improved out of all recognition this season.

Roger Varian’s Line Of Departure also represents the three-year-old generation on the back of winning a Salisbury Listed event last time out.

Others engaged include Charlie Appleby’s Jersey winner Creative Force, Clive Cox’s Supremacy, Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon and the Tim Easterby-trained Art Power.

Chris Kiely savouring the moment with July Cup hope Rohaan

From thinking he had made a massive mistake, Chris Kiely now has arguably the hottest property in sprinting on his hands in Rohaan.

The three-year-old, trained by David Evans, will be supplemented for the Darley July Cup on Monday following an excellent performance in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, taking on older and seasoned performers in one of the hottest six-furlong handicaps in the calendar had not been the plan.

When the racehorse owner and professional gambler bought the horse, bringing in his friend, Crystal Palace defender James Tomkins, the intention was to go for the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting, only to be told he was ineligible as he was a gelding.

“We bought the horse to go for the Commonwealth. After he won the Pavilion Stakes I said to James he’ll go straight for the Ascot Group One.

Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins, co-owner of Rohaan with Chris Kiely
Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins, co-owner of Rohaan with Chris Kiely (Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA)

“About six weeks after we bought him, the Sunday night before the first stage for the Wokingham and the deadline for the Sandy Lane, a friend of mine told me the horse could not run in the Commonwealth.

“I didn’t believe him, but we checked up and realised. Then I’m flapping around. What have I done?

“For the first time in my life I was panicking for a couple of hours – I’ve made a mistake, spending all this money and there’s nowhere to run him. At the time we didn’t want to run him against older horses. The July Cup wasn’t even on our radar.

“If we hadn’t have found out we’d be sitting here with no wins under our belt.”

Rohaan won the Sandy Lane at Haydock, beating Dragon Symbol, who ironically was first past the post, demoted to second, in the Commonwealth.

After that race, Kiely knew Rohaan had to have a big chance in the Wokingham.

“The only time I got confident all week was when Dragon Symbol went past the post in the Commonwealth and I started to get a bit excited. It made me realise we’ve got a serious horse and we might have a chance in the big handicap.

“Then the draw bias and the rain came in our favour.”

Rohaan came from last to first under a brilliant ride from Shane Kelly to take the Wokingham honours and give Kiely a day he will never forget.

“Just to be part of it was surreal and Dave (Evans) said to me ‘savour the moment’,” said Kiely.

“To have a winner there I can honestly say it will be a day I shall never forget. I have probably watched the replay 300 times. The memento you get given I can pass down to future generations. It was an incredible experience.

“Once it sunk in the idea now is to go and try to do it again.”

After that superb performance, the July Cup, which is part of this year’s Qipco British Champions Series, was the inevitable next port of call.

“We didn’t expect him to perform as he has in his last two runs and we didn’t want to take on the older horses, but now with the figures he produced at Ascot, we haven’t a choice now. We have to go and take them on,” said Kiely.

“We’re looking like we might get the ground we need. We probably wouldn’t run him if there was firm in the ground description.

“The horse is in the form of his life, he takes his racing incredibly well. It’s a race we’ll never get another stab at and it’s the chance of a Group One.

“The horse is on an upward curve and I think we go there with an incredible chance and if there was rain to come we’d go and be almost favourite. It’s an incredibly hot race and it’s nice to be part of it.

“If all goes well in the July Cup, we might go for the Maurice de Gheest four weeks later. He takes his races so well. While the iron is hot you have to strike, so we’re going to supplement him and pray for rain.”

Kiely recalled the good fortune in how he came to buy Rohaan after the horse had won the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in April.

“Dave had the horse for an owner based in Ireland. The horse won the Pavilion, but the owner just couldn’t get over to England. He was basically stuck in Ireland due to Covid,” he explained.

“Because he couldn’t get over, there was an offer on the table from Hong Kong. Once I found out he was being sold, Dave told me the money involved. I’d bought 15-20 horses in the last couple of years that haven’t really worked out, so why not spend a bit more money and try to get a nice one and one that could stay in Dave’s yard.

“I bought him with my friend James for a significant amount of money, but it’s worked out well. He’s had two runs and two wins.

“It’s an unbelievable story and I’m just pleased to be a part of it.”

Wokingham hero Rohaan to get July Cup chance

Rohaan, impressive winner of the Wokingham Stakes, is to be supplemented for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday week.

Monmouthshire trainer David Evans revealed the three-year-old is likely go for the Group One showpiece at Headquarters after being denied the chance in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot because he is a gelding. That rule does not apply to the July Cup.

He ran in the Wokingham instead – and put up a classy performance in the ultra-competitive handicap under the steadier of 9st 8lb, coming from last to first to defeat 20 rivals.

“Rohaan is fine, he’s very well. The plan is to supplement for the July Cup, especially if they get a bit of rain, which they might,” said Evans.

“He was unbelievable in the Wokingham with top-weight.

“There’s still more to come from him, I think. He’s the horse of a lifetime, I’m lucky to have him.”

Rohaan’s form was boosted in the Commonwealth Cup as he had beaten first past the post Dragon Symbol in the Group Two Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock on his previous start.

Dragon Symbol was demoted to second following a stewards’ inquiry after denying American raider Campanelle by a head, a verdict that is subject to an appeal on Thursday.

Walker anticipating favourable ground for Starman at Newmarket

Trainer Ed Walker is confident conditions will be suitable for Starman in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday week.

The Upper Lambourn handler was ruing his luck when rain fell at Royal Ascot, forcing him to withdraw his crack sprinter from the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The four-year-old was a leading fancy for that six-furlong Group One feature on the back of victory in the Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire.

His only defeat in five career starts came on soft ground at Ascot when he was well-beaten in the Qipco British Champions Sprint in October.

“He’s on track for the July Cup. He’s in good nick and he’ll work on Wednesday,” said Walker.

“I think we’ll be all right with the ground. Newmarket was very quick last week and they tend not to get much of the rain. I’d be very surprised if it’s any softer than it was when he won at York.

“We’d be seriously unlucky if we had to re-think again. It would be hard to re-think again as he hasn’t got many options. I’m sure it will be fine.”

A setback prevented Came From The Dark from running at the Royal meeting but he is fully recovered and on course to return to action in the Coral Charge at Sandown on Saturday.

Came From The Dark (second left) is set to return to action in the Coral Charge at Sandown
Came From The Dark (second left) is set to return to action in the Coral Charge at Sandown (David Davies/PA)

The five-year-old has his second attempt at a Group Three contest after finishing second in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in May.

“I think we’re going to head to Sandown. It should be nice ground there,” said Walker.

“It was a real shame we missed Royal Ascot with him because the five there would have been perfect, but this stiff five will suit.

“You just tend to need a bit more luck at Sandown. I hope the race pans out for him but he’s in great shape. I’m looking forward to seeing him back.

“He had a setback after Newmarket which was not a major one but we couldn’t train him for 10 days or so. It was frustrating rather than disastrous.”

Return to Newmarket – and quick ground – firmly on the agenda for Miss Amulet

Ken Condon is banking on Newmarket to provide Miss Amulet’s preferred sound surface as he targets the July Cup for his top-class filly.

Miss Amulet has encountered wretched luck with the weather so far this season, as rain has repeatedly scuppered her big-race chances.

It has restricted her, in fact, to just one appearance – when well-beaten in the mud at the Curragh in last month’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Deluges have also twice conspired against her at the 11th hour, forcing Condon to pull her out of an intended first start of the campaign in the French Guineas at ParisLongchamp and then again when the heavens opened on the eve of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last week.

“It was obviously very disappointing,” Condon said of Miss Amulet’s most recent misadventure

“I rang her owner Michael Tabor on Friday just as we were taking cover from biblical rain.

“But we’ll aim for the July Cup next, two weeks on Saturday.”

Experience tells the County Kildare trainer that another trip to Britain may well deliver a level playing field at last for Miss Amulet.

“Nine times out of 10 (at Newmarket in July), it’s quick ground,” he said.

“It’s going to shape up to be a very strong race, with the three-year-olds coming through and your older horses again.

“But that’s where we’d like to see her. If we get on her optimum conditions, six furlongs on top of the ground, we hope we can see how we’re going.”

The daughter of Sir Prancealot proved on several occasions as a juvenile last year that she is highly capable – including when twice placed at Group One level, second over six furlongs of the Rowley Mile in the Cheveley Park Stakes and then third at Keeneland during the Breeders’ Cup.

Condon resolved to give her a shot at a Classic this season, but he is happy to revert to the sprint trip at which the Lowther Stakes winner has already excelled.

“She’s very non-demonstrative in her homework – she’s never been any different,” he said.

“But she’s in very good form, so we’re looking forward to seeing her back on the racecourse.

“She’s one that comes alive at the races. Whether it was America, or England or Naas or whatever, it didn’t matter – she turned up and looked very progressive last year.

“She remains a filly we have high expectations for. So let’s hope in two weeks’ time, we get to see her.”

Miss Amulet would be unlucky indeed if she encountered soft ground again on the July course.

Miss Amulet and James Doyle (left) win the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York
Miss Amulet and James Doyle (left) win the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York (David Davies/PA)

“I’ve been there a few times, and the biggest thing is watering and keeping it safe,” added Condon.

“Often you can get a tailwind – and the last time I was there, there were a couple of track records lowered.

“We’d a runner in the Duchess of Cambridge two years ago (Celtic Beauty), and it was very quick conditions.

“That would hold no fears for her.”

He reports Miss Amulet in fine heart at home despite her latest wasted overseas excursion

“She had an aborted trip the other day,” said Condon.

“But she’s back home and did a little breeze on Tuesday morning, and all is well with her.

“So Newmarket is where we’re going next, and that’ll dictate the rest of our season then.

“We’re very much looking forward to that.”

Oxted raring to go for July Cup defence

Oxted is on course to defend his Darley July Cup crown following his victory in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trainer Roger Teal reports his star sprinter to have taken his big-race efforts in his stride and the five-year-old will head to Newmarket on July 10.

One of 29 horses left in six-furlong showpiece at the latest acceptance stage, Oxted will bid to become a rare dual winner of the race. The last horse to record back-to-back victories was Right Boy in 1958 and 1959.

“All is good. I’m happy with him. He’s come out of the race well,” said Teal.

“The plan is to go for the July Cup again – all roads lead to Newmarket.

“We never lost the faith and it was an impressive performance by him as well, so fair play to him.”

Extravagant Kid, two lengths behind Oxted in third place at Royal Ascot, is set to reoppose.

The American raider won the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March and will be stepping back up to six furlongs.

His trainer, Irish-born Brendan Walsh, is looking forward to the challenge.

“I don’t think going back up to six furlongs will be a negative. Although it is a little stiffer than Dubai, you are going downhill a lot of the way. It is probably as far as he needs to go but I think he will be fine,” said the Kentucky-based handler.

“We gave him plenty of time to get over his travelling turnaround, but you would think he would be in a better position now having had that run at Ascot.”

Frankie Dettori was aboard the eight-year-old at the Royal meeting and Walsh admits it would be “fantastic” if Dettori could take the ride again.

“I’m not sure yet who will be riding him as we haven’t looked into it yet and I will know more next week,” he added.

“We only decided to leave him in the race at the start of the week. It would be fantastic if we could get Frankie as he is always good to have.”

“He is eight now and is probably in his prime. He is not going to be up to this standard forever so we will just enjoy it.”

Supremacy is set to run in the July Cup
Supremacy is set to run in the July Cup (Mark Cranham/PA)

Lambourn trainer Clive Cox has left in Supremacy and Diligent Harry, who were both late withdrawals from the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot due to the soft ground.

“I would hope Supremacy is an intended runner. With the ground being too soft at Ascot, moving forwards this was always going to be the plan,” he said.

“He did have a high white cell count when he returned home from the Pavilion (Stakes at Ascot) which would suggest why he ran below expectations. At the same time the winner of the race (Rohaan) was underestimated as he clearly looks talented.

“We have been happy with Supremacy over the last few weeks and it was just unfortunate the ground went against him at Ascot.”

Diligent Harry, winner of the three-year-old All-Weather Sprint Championships at Lingfield, will run first in the Group Three William Hill Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on Saturday.

“The intention is to run in the Chipchase Stakes on Saturday and that was the Plan B alternative when the ground went against us at Ascot,” Cox went on.

“He is proven on the all-weather and this gives us a stepping stone forwards and that is why we have kept an iron in the fire regarding his July Cup entry.

“I think it is doable to do both races but bearing in mind he has never run on turf in comparison to a lot of his competitors, he lacks the experience.”

Other acceptors include Diamond Jubilee Stakes hero Dream Of Dreams, Coronation Stakes heroine Alcohol Free, Jersey Stakes scorer Creative Force, Glen Shiel and Dragon Symbol.

July Cup is next on Glen Shiel’s agenda

Glen Shiel will head next for the July Cup at Newmarket after his gallant second in Royal Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The seven-year-old ran admirably to finish a length behind Sir Michael Stoute’s big-race favourite Dream Of Dreams on Saturday.

Owners Hambleton Racing were thrilled with the Archie Watson-trained gelding, and now have a string of further Group One targets to look forward to this season.

Glen Shiel (left) finishing second in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes during day five of Royal Ascot
Glen Shiel (right) finishing second in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s just a complete legend of a horse – we were pretty confident he’d strip fitter for his first run at the Curragh, and he was right back to his best,” said the owners’ racing director Simon Turner.

“It was possibly even a marginal personal best, which is saying something at the age of seven – he ran his heart out.

“It was a super race – you’d have thought he won, with the ovation his owners gave him when he came back in.

“He’s just given his owners so much pleasure, and we can’t wait for the rest of the season.”

The July Cup will be next, with a trip to Deauville for the Prix Maurice de Gheest also under consideration before a bid to retain his Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes crown.

“He’ll go to the July Cup next,” said Turner.

“He’s got other Group One options in France, like the Prix Maurice de Gheest – then he’ll go to Haydock for the Haydock Sprint Cup and then the race he won last year at Ascot on Champions Day.

“Those would be the major races that would be at the front of our minds.”

Glen Shiel has been a model of consistency since specialising in sprint distances and has been unplaced just once when running over a six-furlong trip, in fourth on his first start of this season at the Curragh last month.

“If you look at him since he dropped to six furlongs and started sprinting, he’s never been far away,” added Turner.

“He really thrives on his racing, this horse. He deserved a break after last year, and I think Archie just felt he’d need that run (at the Curragh) just to get him right back to where he wanted him.

“He’s a super consistent horse and he’s just been a brilliant acquisition for us, to say we only paid £45,000 for him.

“He’s just been a super horse, and there’s nothing to say he won’t be just as good for the rest of the year, so we’ve loads to look forward to.”