What are the best bets on the final day of the Newmarket July Festival?
On what is most probably the busiest weekend of the entire racing calendar, the bet365-sponsored July Cup at Newmarket is one of four Channel 4-televised races to come under scrutiny here.
2.00: bet365 Mile (Handicap), 1m
It could pay to go with the obvious here and back David Simcock’s rapidly progressive ORACOLO in his hat-trick bid. The gelding has been raised a hefty 11lb for his latest success at Doncaster, but he simply toyed with the runner-up Azraff, who himself is a progressive sort, and as he still looked a little green when hitting the front there is almost certainly better to come. It would be no surprise to see him rated 100-plus in the near future, so he may still have a few pounds in hand over the handicapper on his current perch of 93.
Lady Cecil’s Western Reserve looks a danger, though the form of the Sandown race he finished second in last time is not working out. Great Park is up 4lb for a neck success at Windsor last time and needs to improve again, while My Dream Boat has his stamina to prove with his sprint pedigree is not encouraging in that respect.
2.35: bet365 Superlative Stakes (Group 2), 7f
Aidan O’Brien’s Air Vice Marshall is likely to go off favourite and he could be anything, though the form of his Gowran Park maiden win is nothing special. At shortish odds, he’s opposed with William Haggas’ WAR DEPARTMENT, who was allowed to coast home in his own time in the Coventry Stakes last time after missing the break and then being badly impeded, and is better judged on his impressive debut success at Leicester. This is far from being a strong Group 2 and his stable continues in irresistible form, so I’m more than happy to take the sponsors’ 4/1.
3.10: bet365 Bunbury Cup (Heritage Handicap), 7f
A typically competitive renewal of this Heritage Handicap and plenty can be fancied. Luca Cumani’s Ayaar has been well backed ante post and, having possibly being delivered too soon in the Royal Hunt Cup last time, Frankie Dettori is likely to ride a more patient race this time. An impressive scorer when defeating 21 rivals previously at Newbury, he might be worth another chance, though current odds of 7/1 look skinny enough in a race of this nature.
Chil The Kite ran a blinder to finish third in the Hunt Cup and seems sure to be thereabouts again, though he’s hardly the best handicapped runner in the field with joint top weight to carry. Last year’s winner Heaven’s Guest is only 2lb higher and things didn’t go his way when ninth at York last time. He’s tempting each-way at 16/1 with the sponsors.
However, the vote goes to David Simcock’s RELATED, who ran a cracker to finish fourth in the Wokingham last time, his first start since winning at Kempton in March. He runs off the same mark here and the talented Tom Marquand takes a handy 5lb off his back. The extra furlong shouldn’t be a problem either as he’s thrice won over 7f, and all that makes him fair each-way value at 14/1 with bet365.
3.45: Darley July Cup (Group 1), 6f
I’d like to say I’ve found one at an each-way price for the day’s feature, but I think MUHAARAR will win. He’s disputing favouritism with Australian raider Brazen Beau at around the 9/4 mark, with a big gap back to third favourite Muthmir at 10/1, and the bookies look to have called this right. A winner of two of Australia’s major sprint races over 6f, Brazen Beau ran a cracker to finish second in the Diamond Jubilee after his jockey Craig Williams decided to plough a lone furrow on the stands’ side, which ultimately may have cost him the race. With James Doyle taking over in the plate he’s very much respected, but the 6lb weight for age allowance he concedes to the selection may be beyond him.
Charlie Hills’ runner was seriously impressive when landing the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, which looked ultra competitive beforehand, and his trainer reports him to have come out of that race well and reckons he may even be a “little better.” If that’s the case the others might not see him for dust and, while I concede Newmarket rides completely different to Ascot, he did finish third in the Group 2 July Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago. He’s a better horse now and it doesn’t hurt his chances that he stays further than 6f given the uphill finish here, whereas his main rival might be treading water. I’m taking Sky Bet’s standout quote of 11/4 as I can see him going off around 2/1.
Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above Channel 4-televised races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.