Darley July Cup Preview

oxted
Oxted At Home (Roger Teal Racing on Instagram) 

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Lots of excellent sprinters have won the group one Darley July Cup over the years – Abernant, Green Desert, Oasis Dream, Lethal Force and Slade Power. More recently, it has been won by Harry Angel, US Navy Flag and Ten Sovereigns. The connections of the latter three are all represented in this year’s renewal and a lot of the runners have live chances.

The Diamond Jubilee acts as a good form line for this race. It was won by Hello Youmzain with Sceptical third, Khaadem fourth and Shine So Bright tenth. Hello Youmzain gave Kevin Stott his first Royal Ascot winner and since then the jockey has been flying. This son of Kodiac won the group one Sprint Cup at Haydock last year on soft ground but could only manage eighth in the Champion Sprint. He battled extremely well at Royal Ascot and is undeniably a leading player. Sceptical was the horse moving up the grades in that race. He challenged at two furlongs out and, just yards from the line, he was just passed by Hello Youmzain and Dream Of Dreams. He’s got a wonderful story and worked his way through the rankings to listed glory at Naas twelve days before Royal Ascot.

Khaadem’s last three races have all been in group ones after a hugely impressive success in the Stewards Cup. He was last in the Haydock Sprint Cup behind Hello Youmzain and Brando and then eleventh in the Champion Sprint behind Brando and Hello Youmzain again, subsequently. His fourth placed finish at Royal Ascot was hugely improved but I think he’s a horse who runs better on good ground. His stablemate Equilateral has been brought by Mrs Fitri Hay since his excellent second to Battaash over five furlongs. There was a lot of talk about him before the race after he spent the early part of this year in Dubai. The gelding operation has done him the world of good. He’s not ran over six furlongs since April 2019 when fourth at the other Newmarket course. He’s won once over this trip which was by eight lengths so the stamina is there.

Shine So Bright was tenth in the Diamond Jubilee and since then he’s come third, beaten three length over seven furlongs at Epsom. He went extremely hard on the front end on that run which was just a week ago. He’s a horse that dabbles over a lot of trips. He won, theoretically, a Guineas Trial and was then sixth in the actual race. Next time, he shockingly beat Laurens over seven furlongs and then Sir Dancealot beat him at Doncaster in a group two. I’m not particularly sure they know what trip is his ideal one but his is by a winner of this race in Oasis Dream. I was surprised to see Sir Dancealot in this race. All last season, this now six year old ran over a mile and over seven furlongs and won two group twos over the latter trip. He likes the ground when it is good or harder and finished fourth on the Rowley Mile when last seen.

The grand eight year old Brando has ran in the race for the last three years, finishing third, second and seventh. After this race last year, he was second in a Deauville group one, fourth in the Haydock Sprint. He returned this season finishing fifth to Oxted and then second to Judicial on the all weather, proving the ability is still there. Oxted, on the other hand, is still in the early days of his career. This son of July Cup winner Mayson won on his second lifetime start but was beaten half a length by Khaadem next time. He was second over course and distance in August when Cieran Fallon Jr rode him for the first time. Next time, the combination won the Portland really well against older rivals. He got his season off to a great start with a group three win in the Abernant Stakes, named after the July Cup winner, and I think this horse is group one quality. I interviewed his trainer Roger Teal, which you can read here, and this race has been his long-time aim.

German trainer Dominik Moser send over the Medicean colt Namos. He won a group three on his third lifetime start and has ran into Too Darn Hot. This season he won two group threes and this will be his first outing in England and on soft ground. You can’t completely rule this horse out though as the trainer has had success when sending over horses, in particular Waldpfad, who managed to win the group three Hackwood Stakes last season.

There are four smart three year olds taking their chances here with the 6lbs allowance. Two of these contested the Commonwealth Cup – Golden Horde, the winner, and Southern Hills, who finished in seventh. Golden Horde represents the sprint kings: Adam Kirby and Clive Cox. This combination won this race with Lethal Forse, Golden Horde’s sire, in 2013 and Harry Angel in 2017. At two years of age, Golden Horde won the Richmond Stakes and then ran into the talented Earthlight on two occasions. His Royal Ascot success was extremely impressive and I think he is quite versatile when it comes to the ground. Southern Hills’ trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has won the last two renewals of this and you can never discount one of his runners. He was seventh in the Commonwealth Cup after a 366 day absence after he won last year’s Windsor Castle Stakes. I think he has ability but this will probably be too hot for him.

It is interesting that Threat is lining up in this race after being considered a St James’ Palace contender. He was fifth in that and didn’t completely disgrace himself. At two, he was beaten by Golden Horde in a group two at Glorious Goodwood but beat Lord Of The Lodge in the Gimcrack Stakes at York. He won another group two at Doncaster in September but found the likes of Earthlight and Golden Horde too much in the Middle Park. Lord Of The Lodge takes his chances in this for Karl Burke. He didn’t race after being beaten by Threat until February when he won at Newcastle. He was withdrawn in early June due to unsuitable ground (good to soft) but ran at Royal Ascot on soft ground to be eighth. He’ll need to improve.

Verdict

I’m siding with GOLDEN HORDE for the brilliant combination of Adam Kirby and Clive Cox. I loved the way he won last time and I genuinely believe he could be their next sprinting sensation. Of the others, I really want Oxted to run well for Roger Teal. He’s a smashing, progressive, young horse, who has risen through the ranks incredibly well. He’ll win a group one someday and I expect a big run!

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