The Darley July Cup is a Group 1 flat race run on the July Course at Newmarket over a distance of six furlongs. It is recognised as the highlight of the July Festival with prize money of £500,000.
The event was established in 1876, with the first running going to Springfield, a colt bred by Queen Victoria at the Hampton Court Stud.
The race has been dominated by three, four and five-year-olds, with only Les Arcs at the age of six breaking this trend in over 70 years. Younger progressive types are clearly the horses to follow when searching for the winner of this prestigious race.
A pair of three-year-olds have won the July Cup in the last 10 years. Dream Ahead was the latest to do so in 2011, when having struggled in the St James’s Palace Stakes, he was dropped back in trip to great effect.
One of Saturday’s well fancied contenders has similarly stepped back in distance having finished eighth in the French Guineas. Muhaarar did so in stunning fashion when taking the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He now has to take on older sprinters, but the impression he left in June suggests he is likely to be up to the task.
The markets point to Australian sprinter Brazen Beau being the likely danger having only just failed to take the Diamond Jubilee at the royal meeting. That particular race is understandably a decent pointer to the July Cup, with Slade Power completing the double last year following on from Lethal Force completing the same double in 2013.
Chris Waller’s sprinter is undoubtedly top class and looks sure to go very close. Astaire, Caspar Netscher, Tropics and Due Diligence were all behind him in the Diamond Jubilee and it’s hard to imagine any of them reversing the form.
Sole Power, though an exceptional sprinter, is far less effective over six furlongs and has to put a disappointing run in the King’s Stand behind him. Muthmir could prove an interesting contender. Representing the same connections as Muhaarar, he ran a cracker in the King’s Stand and the step up to six furlongs should not inconvenience him.
Though the record of fillies and mares in the race is far from impressive, it is hard to dismiss Ed Lynam’s Anthem Alexander. She is clearly an exceptional horse and though beaten by Muhaarar in the Commonwealth Cup, she travelled like a dream that day before her run tailed off a little in the final furlong. She remains a filly with huge potential.
It has the look of another fabulous sprint, with the top two in the betting sure to play their part in a thrilling finish.