The Racing Horse has concluded an in depth look at the 6f (July) Darley July Cup Stakes Group 1 and offers our conclusions. We are assuming the ground will be good to the fast side of good (there are one or two showers forecast in the area).
The Darley July Cup is regarded as Europe's most prestigious sprint and this edition promises to live up to its billing as top 3yos Caravaggio and Harry Angel have been declared along with leading older speedsters Limato and The Tin Man. Caravaggio heads this select field of 10 and the exciting son of Scat Daddy, trained by Aidan O'Brien, will face older sprinters for the first time as he tries to take his perfect record to seven. Despite some clutter it is a race to savour so let's's look at the contenders in race card order:
Progressed into a high-class sprinter last season but has no chance in this high class Group 1. The 5yo gelding broke a blood vessel when last of 12 when 5/2 favourite in a Group 2 at York on his last start in May and 4 of his 6 wins have been on ground good to soft and softer. The 25/1 reflects his true odds and should be a lay for a place. Will finish closer to tenth than first.
Only the ego of Marwan Koukash knows why Growl is entered in this race. The 5yo gelding unseated Paul Hanagan in the starting stalls on latest start at Royal Ascot, which followed three disappointing runs. The 5yo gelding is not a Group horse and his sole Listed win is his only success in his last 10 races and proves the point. After this race Koukash will tell trainer Richard Fahey where he runs next! He must be a great man to train for...
Landed a valuable handicap at York last autumn and showed his best form so far when second in an all-weather Group 3 last time out but this is miles different. Before that his winning standard came in Class 2s. With just a 12-day turnaround since his last run it seems utter madness taking on proper sprinters where a chance of a place is virtually nil. Save him for a realistic pot David!
Clearly had excuses at the Breeders' Cup (wrong trip) and at Meydan (ground turned soft) but arguably unlucky last time in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes when third after late traffic problems. It was interesting to hear Henry Candy's comments after Ascot, he said: "Ryan said Limato ran a brilliant race and was as good as ever. He felt if he was drawn nearer the pace it might have made a difference. He was beaten by two good horses and we're delighted. Given that he'd had a long break, he'll come on for the run a bit. Ryan said he should go for the July Cup rather than the Lennox, which was a surprise because he'll be riding Caravaggio in that." The consensus is last year's winner is beginning to look too vulnerable to be a strong fancy but a certainty for a place and if Caravaggio and/or Tasleet has an off day the 5yo gelding could go close!
MR LUPTON 80/1
This 4yo is another Richard Fahey horse that should not be at Newmarket cluttering the place up. Has failed to finish in the top two from five attempts at Listed and Group 3 combined. He does not belong in this race as three Class 2 and one Class 5 wins show.
Produced the most eye-catching run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, having been sixth inside the final furlong to show the fastest late pace of all and closed to within a neck of The Tin Man. Had earlier shown the benefit of first-time cheekpieces in his Group 2 win at York but although this 4yo colt has won on all types of ground good to soft might be his optimum conditions. William Haggas might disagree because after running his charge on soft ground at York in May he said: "I was worried about the ground, but have always wanted to drop Tasleet back to 6f. It will be Group 1s for him all the way now and we'll try to make a stallion of him." This colt has a winning chance and our view is that if there was a shower or two it would enhance its chance.
THE TIN MAN 7/1
Has an interesting profile in that since July 2015 he has won and lost alternating races 11 times straight, suggesting he may suffer from bounce factor issues. Group 1 wins at Ascot last October and three weeks ago represent tremendous form and this 5yo has more big-race wins in him. The 5yo clearly needs good to good to firm ground, he laboured on bad ground at York in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes. This a horse that enjoys coming off a fast pace so that his acceleration can come to the fore and jockey Tom Queally gets on well with him scoring 7-12 when combining. If the ground is fast must have a chance if we set aside the back-up issue.
Is an absolute star and unbeaten in six runs winning on every type of ground between soft to good to firm. He faced his first real test when he landed a strong renewal of the Commonwealth Cup last month on good to firm ground. This was a mighty performance because Ryan Moore left him with too much to do off a pace that looked no more than sensible. He had to run down key form horses in Harry Angel and Blue Point, who both got a big start on him, but he managed to do it and looked more dominant than the winning margin. He did, however seem to have an extremely hard race, having to run flat out to get those two before switching his leads just before the line and not galloping out as strongly as some. There's no doubting he's a tremendous talent, but this July Cup comes just 22 days after and that is the danger!
HARRY ANGEL 13/2
Harry Angel will surely be too good for the majority of the older horses in the field. Having previously pulled early, he has been allowed to lead in his last two starts, though he could not burn off Caravaggio that way last time at Royal Ascot. One imagines he will lead again and hope that Caravaggio under-performs. This 3yo colt is entitled to improve given he has only ran 5 times. Optimum going is a confusion for us because the Dark Angel colt is 1-1 on good to soft and 1-1 on good to firm. The Godolphin ownership says their horse acts on fast and easy ground. Here is the rest of their comments:
£44,000 Y; fourth foal; half-brother to 1m2f winner Golden Journey (RPR 78); dam placed 6f-1m (76) half-sister to high-class 6f-1m2f performer Xtension (inc Hong Kong 1m Gr 1), out of German Listed-placed 7f winning half-sister to 1m Listed winner A La Carte; touched off in 5f Ascot novice stakes on debut but opened account impressively by winning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes over 6f at Newbury on his second and final start as a juvenile; pulled hard when beaten by Blue Point on his seasonal return in Group 3 at Ascot in May 2017 but posted career-best effort when slamming a useful field in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock later that month; purchased privately by Godolphin afterwards; runner-up in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June; acts on fast and easy ground.
INTELLIGENCE CROSS 100/1
Won a Group 3 at the Curragh last summer as a 2yo but is winless in five starts since and first-time blinkers at Royal Ascot failed to produce any improvement. He has pace and likes good to firm ground but other than that there is little to recommend him but he is trained by Aidan O'Brien.
Result: 1st CARAVAGGIO 11/10f 2nd TASLEET 9/1 3rd LIMATO 5/1 4th THE TIN MAN 6/1
The Racing Horse is not sure the trends can help us this year but here they are:
All of the last 11 winners finished in the top 6 last time out
12/13 were 3 to 5yos and the exception was a 6yo. Only one horse aged 6yo has won in the last 60 years.
10/11 had won at least 1 of their last 3 starts
10/11 had won at 6f plus
10/11 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
6/7 were ratd 119+ and 7/7 rated 110+
15/20 had their last run at the Royal Meeting
The three 3yos winners had run 5-8 times in their career, the six 4yos had run 9-16 times and the three 5yos had run 12-18 times and the 6yo had ran 37 times.
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