This week’s horse racing is mainly about Newmarket’s three-day July Meeting. It kicks-off with the Bahrain Trophy on Thursday and takes in other group races like the July Stakes, Princess Of Wales’s Stakes, Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, Falmouth Stakes, Superlative Stakes, and the July Cup. Meanwhile, Ascot also hosts group race action on Saturday in the form of the Summer Mile.
Newmarket (Thursday 12 July)
Bahrain Trophy Stakes
The Bahrain Trophy was first run in 1986 and was elevated to its current Group Three status in 2009. It is open to three-year-olds and is run over one mile and five furlongs, making it a target for many possible St Leger contenders. Former winners include Grey Shot, Persian Punch, Youmzain, Tranquil Tiger, and Masked Marvel. John Gosden has trained four of the last seven winners and could be represented by the smart-looking First Eleven this year. Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien has two possible entries in Guiseppe Garibaldi and Victory Salute. Other interesting contenders include Loxley and Wells Farhh Go.
Arqana July Stakes
The July Stakes is Britain’s longest-standing two-year-old race and it dates back all the way to 1786, though it wasn’t until 2003 that it earned Group Two status. It is open to colts and geldings and is run over six-furlongs. Its most famous winner is the prolific sprinter Green Desert, whilst other notable winners include First Trump, Tagula, Arcano, and Ivawood.
The Hannon stable has the best recent record in the race with five wins in the last eight years. However, they are without a runner this year. Therefore, this could become a match between Advertise and Legends Of War. The Martin Meade trained Advertise was a very decent second at Royal Ascot, where he split the highly-regarded pair of Calyx and Sergei Prokofiev. However, it could be significant if Calyx’s trainer takes on Advertise with the once-raced Legends Of War, as he was a very expensive purchase.
Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes
The Princess Of Wales’s Stakes was first run in 1894, achieving its current Group Two status in 1978. It is open to horses aged three and older and is contested over one mile and four furlongs. It has a fantastic role of honour, including St Leger winners like Shantou and Lucarno, as well as the L’Arc de Triomphe winner Carroll House. Other notable winners include Height Of Fashion, Shardari, Millenary, and the 2017 Ascot Gold Cup winner Big Orange. Sir Michael Stoute has trained a record nine winners of the race, and may well have this year’s favourite in the form of Mirage Dancer.
Newmarket (Friday 11 July)
Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes
The Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes was known as the Cherry Hinton until 2013, but it has held its current Group 2 status since 1996. It is open to two-year-old fillies and has been won by several horses that went on to success in the following year’s English 1,000 Guineas. Its most high-profile winners include Sweet Solero, Diminuendo, Sayyedati, Applaud, Attraction, and Roly Poly. Trainer Mark Johnston hasn’t trained a winner since Attraction in 2004 but looks to have his best chance since then with Royal Ascot winner Main Edition.
However, Fairyland could be a formidable opponent if Aidan O’Brien chooses to run his Kodiac sired filly in a bid for a hat-trick after wins for Roly Poly and Clemmie in the last two editions.
Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes
Aidan O’Brien is also on a hat-trick in Friday’s highlight, the Falmouth Stakes, after wins for Alice Springs and Roly Poly. This one-mile Group One contest for fillies and mares was first run in 1911 and was elevated to a Group One in 2004. Its role of honour includes dual winners Sonic Lady and Soviet Song, as well as Niche, Lemon Souffle, Goldikova, and Amazing Maria. O’Brien can call upon eight possible entries, including the high-class trio of Happily, Rhododendron, and Hydrangea, but even those three will have to produce a career best performance if Alpha Centauri turns up in the same form as she was at Royal Ascot.
Newmarket (Saturday 14 July)
The Superlative Stakes is another Group Two race for two-year-olds but this one is run over seven furlongs. It was first run in 1991 and achieved its current status in 2006. It has been won by the likes of Be My Chief, Dr Devious, Commander Collins, and Dubawi. This could potentially see a clash between the second and third home in this year’s Coventry Stakes Advertise and Sergei Prokofiev. However, Advertise also has the option of running on Thursday. That could leave the door open for Aidan O’Brien to win back-to-back renewals after winning last year’s race with Gustav Klimt. Sergei Prokofiev certainly looked ready for a step-up in trip after cruising through his race at Ascot before finding some late trouble. Already short for next year’s English 2,000 Guineas, this looks a likely stepping stone to bigger things for the son of Scat Daddy.
The July Cup
£283,550 awaits the connections of the winner of the Group 1 July Cup, and it usually provides one of the best races of the whole season. Established in 1876, it is run over six furlongs. It is also the sixth-leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. The list of former winners is full of spectacular sprinters including Abernant, Marwell, Sharpo, Green Desert, Ajdal, Soviet Song, Cadeaux Genereux, Royal Academy, Owington, Stravinsky Oasis Dream, Dream Ahead, and Harry Angel. In the absence of Harry Angel, Blue Point bids to uphold last year’s three-year-old form, whilst US Navy Flag is expected to appreciate the return to sprinting. The 2016 winner Limato is another interesting candidate.
Ascot (Saturday 14 July)
Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes
The Summer Mile Stakes has had a few homes but it was upgraded to a Group 2 in 2007 and moved to Ascot. Horses aged four or older are eligible to run in it and horses such as Dick Turpin, Arod, and Mutakayyef have enjoyed success in it in recent seasons. Arod may return to try and regain his crown this year and he should appreciate the fast ground.
Meanwhile, Lord Glitters may bid to go one better than he did in the Princess Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. They could be joined by Beat The Bank, Eminent, and Sudeois, all of whom have yet to recapture the best of their form from last season but are high-class operators at their best.