Get ready, everyone! One of the most prestigious race meets in England is underway, that being the Newmarket July meeting at Newmarket racecourse. The final card of the three-day meet features seven exceptional races full of talented horses and competitive fields, including a pair of major stakes races. Here are some thoughts on each race!
Race 1: Bet365 Mile (Handicap)
8 furlongs for 3yos
This evenly-matched field of twelve 3yos has no clear-cut favorite, although Oracolo–who has won two straight one-mile handicaps in impressive fashion at Doncaster–figures to have a strong chance at winning. He gets into the race with a roughly middle-of-the-pack weight assignment of 130 and should be closing ground at the finish.
Western Reserve, who has placed in the top three in all three of his races so far, should also be in the mix after tiring late to finish second in a nine-furlong handicap at Sandown last time out. The cutback in distance should help the chances of this Juddmonte runner.
Race 2: Bet365 Superlative Stakes (Eng-II)
7 furlongs for 2yos
Aidan O’Brien sends out the favorite in Air Vice Marshal, an impressive 2 1/2-length maiden winner at Gowran Park last time out, and the son of War Front appears poised to add a group stakes win to his record. But he’s likely to have some competition from Beaverbrook, who finished a good fourth in the prestigious Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) last time out at Royal Ascot. The Mark Johnston-trained colt had previously won a maiden race at Chester by 4 1/2 lengths and also finished second in a maiden race behind fellow Superlative Stakes starter Birchwood, and could have a strong chance to take down Air Vice Marshal with a bit of luck.
Race 3: Bet365 Bunbury Cup (Heritage Handicap)
7 furlongs for 3yo+
With twenty horses in the field, it’s a bit surprising that any one horse is a clear-cut favorite, but such is the case with Ayaar, who is 11-2 with the British bookmaker William Hill versus 8-1 on the second choice. The colt was impressive two starts back while winning a one-mile handicap at Newbury by two lengths (while facing 21 rivals!), and he didn’t run badly at all when finishing ninth of thirty in the one-mile Royal Hunt Cup handicap at Royal Ascot last time out. Frankie Dettori has the mount on Ayaar, whose proven ability to handle a mile could come in handy given the uphill finish at Newmarket.
Chil the Kite, 8-1 through William Hill, finished third in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and figures to be among Ayaar’s biggest challengers. Heaven’s Guest, ninth in a seven-furlong handicap at York last time out but a stakes winner at Naas one start prior, is another horse to keep an eye on.
Race 4: July Cup (Eng-I)
Six furlongs for 3yo+
Probably the best race of the three-day meet is the July Cup, a prestigious sprint that has drawn a top-notch field of fifteen. One of the favorites to win is Brazen Beau, a multiple group I-winner in Australia that finished second by just a half-length in the six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) last time out. A repeat of that effort would make him difficult to beat, but he will likely face a stiff challenge from Muhaarar. Trained by Charles Hill, the son of Oasis Dream won the Commonwealth Cup (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot by an impressive 3 3/4 lengths, and as a three-year-old facing older horses, he’ll get a six-pound weight break from Brazen Beau. I think he has a very strong chance to pull a mild upset.
Also warranting attention are Muthmir, who was beaten just a half-length when third in the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot, and the eight-year-old veteran Sole Power, a multiple group I-winner that was fifth in the King’s Stand.
Race 5: Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies’ Stakes
7 furlongs for 2yo fillies
There are several promising fillies entered in this race, but perhaps none more so than Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle, who finished fourth in her debut before running second by a short head in the seven-furlong Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. Godolphin’s first-time starters Natural Scenery and City Chic could be promising fillies, but they’ll likely have to be very good–and very sharp–to beat Ballydoyle.
Race 6: Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel Nursery Handicap
7 furlongs for 2yos
Simon Crisford is off to a great start in his training career and his 2yos have already won three races from seven starts, two of those victories coming from First Selection. After breaking her maiden first time out at Southwell before adding another victory at Beverly. When tried against top company in the Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot, First Selection could only finish ninth of seventeen, but had a bit of a troubled trip and should appreciate the drop in class today. Still, he will have to carry top weight of 133 pounds–anywhere from 4 to 21 pounds more than his rivals–which could make him vulnerable to an upset. In fact, the lightweight in the field–Colombe Bleu, carrying just 112 pounds–was very impressive winning a seven-furlong maiden race at Redcar by seven lengths, and might have a legitimate chance to pull off an upset at a respectable price.
Race 7: Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicap
12 furlongs for 3yo+
The final race of the meet will feature seven starters vying for supremacy of a 12-furlong handicap, including Endless Credit, who has been running primarily in hurdle races as of late. He had some success over hurdles, but disapointed in a regular twelve-furlong handicap at York last time out. Therefore, I’ll take a try with Maxwell, who won two straight races at Wolverhampton and Salisbury before running twelfth by 6 1/4 lengths in the twelve-furlong King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot. The drop in class should help his chances, and he’ll carry just 124 pounds, the lowest assignment in the field.
Have fun watching the final day of the Newmarket July meeting!