July Cup Preview 2021

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

The Darley July Cup looks to be one of the best races of the season so far. Raced over six furlongs, nineteen runners are set to take their chance and the winner gets £289,646. There are plenty of fascinating form lines and angles when looking at this race.

The Defending Champion

Oxted looks to win the July Cup for the second year in a row. Right Boy did that in 1958-59 and, ironically, Abernant managed it in 1949-50. Oxted won the race named after him on his first start last season. Since then, he has become the flagship horse for the Roger Teal stable and he gave jockey Cieren Fallon his first group one success, which came in the July Cup twelve months ago when we were in the depths of lockdown number one. Also in that race was Brando, who finished sixth. He had one more start in 2020 but finished fifth in the Champion Sprint behind Glen Shiel, Brando, One Master and Art Power. Connections tried to use the Abernant Stakes route again in 2021 but he was beaten three quarters of a length by Summerghand with Emeraaty Ana a head back in third. Next time, he went to York for the Duke Of York Stakes but finished third behind Starman – that looks a key form-line in the race and one I’ll get on to later on. Then, connections made the bold move to drop back to five furlongs. He faced new opposition and, in the end, his stamina came into play as the purely-speed horses tired after the ruthless gallop. He battled on strongly to win by one and three quarter lengths with Arecibo in second and Extravagant Kid in third.

American Raider

Extravagant Kid adds a spice to the race. This American horse by Kiss The Kid has win fifteen races from fifty-one starts, including a group one in Meydan in March. The next three home that day were Final Song, Acklam Express and Equilateral. It’s fair to say these three horses aren’t up to the ability of the market leaders in this (Final Song was eleventh in the Diamond Jubilee and Acklam Express was tenth in the King’s Stand). However, Extravagant Kid ran really well in the King’s Stand to be third, running on. The group one he won was over six furlongs and on good ground and these are the conditions he’ll face here. It will be his second run after being gelded and he’ll probably do some more travelling this summer.

Diamond Jubilee Quartet

The Diamond Jubilee field, despite there being only twelve of them, split into two parts and four of the runners from that race face off again here. They played important parts in the race. Glen Shiel and Art Power each led a group and Garrus and Summerghand were the back marker for each respective group.

Glen Shiel was a bit unlucky to be nabbed by Dream Of Dreams, who was given a masterful ride by Ryan Moore, in the closing stages and he ran a blinder to be second. He was just there to be reeled in. Before that, he was fourth over in a group two at the Curragh. Archie Watson has improved this horse so much over the last twelve months. The horse’s first group success came at the Curragh last August under Oisin Orr in a group three. Then, he was a good second to Dream Of Dreams in the Haydock Sprint Cup. That put him spot on for winning the Champion Sprint, beating Brando by a nose. If he replicates that, he’ll be extremely competitive but he could probably do with some rain.

Garrus was ridden cold out the back of Glen Shiel’s group but he made good progress through the race. In March, he won after a 575-day absence and, then, he was second to the talented Came From The Dark. Next time, he was a neck and a length behind that same horse and Emaraaty Ana in the Palace House. He was no match for Dream Of Dreams at Windsor and Royal Ascot but he won over course and distance on his debut and much prefers good to firm ground than the soft he has raced on lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if he out-ran his odds for Charlie Hills, who won this in 2015, and Rossa Ryan, who won the Railway Stakes on Go Bears Go two weeks ago.

Art Power led on the stands-side. He seemed to have the world at his hooves after three wide margin wins at the start of his three-year-old campaign, culminating in a group three win at Naas. He finished sixth of eight in the Nunthorpe and he was then fourth in both the Haydock Sprint Cup and the Champion Sprint. This season, he was sixth to Starman at York, when he didn’t jump very well from the stalls and was playing catch up. The front running style he showed in the Diamond Jubilee is definitely the way he needs to race and he does have a strong chance. He has been just missing out on winning at the top level and he is the pick of retained rider Silvestre De Sousa, preferred to the Royal Ascot winning mare Chil Chil. Art Power has a big win in him but he might need a bit of rain to show his best form.

Summerghand didn’t run particularly well in the Diamond Jubilee. It was his eighth start of the year and he has won twice – the All Weather Sprint Final and the Abernant Stakes. He powered through the line in the Abernant to defy Oxted and Emaraaty Ana. He didn’t disgrace himself when fourth in the Duke Of York as his preferred conditions are good to firm. Connections will be hoping it doesn’t rain. That could also be explain his well-beaten tenth in the Diamond Jubilee. He was last of the stands-side body of the field and never quickened at all. He races off his highest career mark of 109, which gives him a bit to find, but he’s a course and distance winner. It’s a credit to connections that he’s seven and still running so well.

Duke Of York Stakes – A Key Formline

Six horses who contested the Duke Of York Stakes now contest the July Cup. Emaraaty Ana led them at a relatively slow pace. The eventual winner, Starman, had a clear passage on the edge of the pack and quickened well with Oxted finishing three and a quarter lengths back in third. He probably needed it to have been more of a test. Summerghand finished fourth; Art Power was sixth after not getting a clear passage; Emaraaty Ana was a head back in seventh and Brando bled when finishing eighth.

Starman only started his career less than a year ago with a win in a Lingfield maiden, making most of the running to win by a neck. The horse who came second that day was a neck behind Rohaan in the Wokingham. After this, Starman won by two and a half lengths at Doncaster, beating King’s Lynn, who was third and favourite in the Wokingham. Connections pushed Starman up in grade to listed company where he won against seasoned handicappers, albeit getting weight from them. He ran in the Champion Stakes and the race was probably a bit too much for him with the ground going against him. He was impressive in the Duke Of York Stakes but he was only a neck ahead of Nahaarr, who was seventh in the Diamond Jubilee, which Starman was pulled out of due to the ground, well behind a few of Starman’s rivals here.

I’ve already gone through the chances of Summerghand and Art Power in the Diamond Jubilee section. Art Power was arguably the unluckiest horse in the race as he really struggled to get a clear passage through the race.

Emaaraty Ana was a head behind Art Power at York and this five-year-old gelded son of Shamardal is involved in a lot of the form of these races. He won the Gimcrack at two and contested both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas at three. He hasn’t won since September 2019 but was third in class one company over six furlongs twice last season. He was only a head behind Oxted in the Abernant and was beaten a short margin when third in the Palace House. He led at York and couldn’t finish out his race but was beaten five and a half lengths. He has form close to the leading players and he should appreciate the good ground.

Brando bled from the nose in the Duke Of York so his finishing position in eighth doesn’t tell the whole story. He has run in the last four July Cups with firm figures of 3276. Now aged nine, he is eight from fifteen in his career. This year, he placed in his first two outings before the unfortunate bleeding incident. Last time, he went to Newcastle for the Chipchase Stakes and once again he bled. It’s worrying that this has happened twice but I’m sure connections are doing all they can for him.

Good Effort by Chil Chil in the Chipchase Stakes

Brando is one of three runners from the Chipchase Stakes that contest the July Cup. The winner of the Newcastle group three was Chil Chil, a five-year-old mare from the Andrew Balding stable. She has raced fifteen times and won six of them. On seasonal reappearance, she was beaten a neck and, despite running on, she was no match for Count Otto. She got her revenge on Amanda Perrett’s charge when she won by three and a half lengths on 1st May. She was a non runner at Royal Ascot because of the ground and instead went to Newcastle where she was a cosy winner with Good Effort in second.

Good Effort is Ismail Mohammed’s stable star at the minute and he trained a group one winner in Brazil in 2006. In December 2019, Good Effort started his winning run of five races and he earned over £81,000 whilst picking up valuable pots on the all weather. He very nearly won a £100,000 handicap in early March and his run in the Chipchase was good as he has carrying 3lbs more than Chil Chil. He’s definitely an all weather specialist but another form-line between him and Chil Chil is that he beat Count Otto by two lengths over course and distance in August 2019.

The Appleby Duo 

Charlie Appleby has two extremely talented runners in this. The pick of the two is Creative Force, the three-year-old. This gelding won on the Rowley Mile on his debut in good style but, at Royal Ascot next time, he was beaten eight and a quarter lengths in the Coventry. Something must’ve gone amiss after this as he wasn’t seen for 299 days when making a successful seasonal reappearance in April. He followed that up with a nice win off a big weight on the other Newmarket track, before going to Newbury and winning the listed Carnarvon Stakes by three lengths. He went to Royal Ascot and won the Jersey Stakes. That day, he put even more daylight between himself and Tactical and Spycatcher, which suggests that he is still improving. The only concern is how he’ll handle the July course but his extra stamina will help him up the incline in the closing stages.  

Glorious Journey won the Criterion Stakes over this course two weeks ago. That was seven furlongs and hasn’t raced over six furlongs since finishing eighth in the July Cup. The ground was good to firm that day and he was second of the five horses that raced in the nearside group. I personally don’t enjoy races as much if they split into multiple groups but with nineteen runners that looks, unfortunately, like it will happen. Glorious Journey has had three starts over six furlongs, winning on debut and second to Dream Of Dreams in a listed event. It’s difficult to know whether he has the speed for this.

Royal Ascot Controversy

Two of the most controversial horses from Royal Ascot – Dragon Symbol and Rohaan – take their chances in the July Cup, but for completely different reasons.

Dragon Symbol won his first four starts between March 1st and May 2nd. He won by clear margins each time and seems to have an excellent attitude to his racing. He was upped to group two company for the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock where he found only Rohaan too good by only a nose. He just failed to pass the post in front but the form is good. Fourth placed runner Light Refrain was eleventh behind Creative Force, beaten over thirteen lengths, in the Jersey Stakes, and she then won a group three this week. Dragon Symbol headed off to Royal Ascot for his biggest start to date in the Commonwealth Cup. He was neck and neck with Campanelle before drifting right-handed and taking the filly off her intended line. He passed the post in front but was demoted to second in the subsequent Stewards Enquiry. He has had a lot of runs in a short space of time and fingers crossed he won’t get himself into trouble again in the closing stages of this race when he’s sure to be in contention.

Rohaan couldn’t race in the Commonwealth Cup because he is a gelding. This ruffled a few feathers as this horse looks to be one of the best sprinters yet wasn’t allowed into the best race for the three-year-olds. Surely the best horses should be allowed into the best races? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and he was instead targeted at the Wokingham. The proverbial ‘group horse in a handicap’ is a regularly used phrase but this horse was just that. He carried 9st8 and cruised through the field from stone last as if they were standing still. He’s a really talented racehorse. I doubt connections would ever have believed he would turn out to be a player in a July Cup back in November 2020 when he was a 150/1 shot for a seven furlong class five on the Kempton All Weather. He won three races before the end of the year and lost his way slightly until winning a class three 0-95 at Lingfield. Four winners have come out of that race, including the Royal Ascot winner Significantly. He was four and a quarter lengths behind Creative Force next time and then he won an Ascot group three before his two aforementioned successes in the Sandy Lane and Wokingham. It would be something of a fairy-tale for these connections.

The Three-Year-Olds

Method was fifth in the Sandy Lane. This horse has a fascinating pedigree being out of a winner over a mile and a half and a half-brother to For Pleasure, who placed in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. However, he is a very fast horse. He was a really impressive winner on debut beating Fev Rover and he went on to win the Rose Bowl Stakes. Next time, the saddle slipped when behind Supremacy and, next time, he was second to Winter Power in the Cornwallis Stakes. His seasonal reappearance was in the Sandy Lane and he absolutely hated the ground, which was heavy, and that was the reason why he didn’t run at Royal Ascot. He’s definitely not reached his ceiling and could be a big price.

Supremacy was poor on his debut but managed to win at Windsor by three and a quarter lengths next time. That earned him being upped in grade to run in the Richmond Stakes, which he won by four lengths. Fifty-eight days later, he made every step of the running to win the group one Middle Park Stakes. The form is really strong with Lucky Vega finishing a half length back in second. He went into this season with an awful lot of hype about him but flopped dramatically when finishing last of eight and six lengths behind Rohaan at Ascot in a group three. It couldn’t have been the ground as he won on good to firm before and he was pulled out at Royal Ascot because of heavy ground. He gets blinkers to waken him up.

Line Of Departure took four starts to get a win on the board and he did it in good style. He backed it up at Ascot and Doncaster to establish himself as a talented horse. In the Mill Reef Stakes, he dwelt at the start and really didn’t run very well at all. He was eighth of eight. There were no problems with the way he ran on seasonal reappearance when he bolted in by two and a quarter lengths at Salisbury beating some good horses. He’s got a bit to find but should continue to improve with racing.

Miss Amulet is the last horse to mention and the sole Irish runner. She represents Ken Condon and will be ridden by Willie Lee. She won by five lengths on her third lifetime start and was then second. Next time, she won a listed race and followed that up at York in the group three Lowther Stakes. She was raced really prominently and kept on really strongly through the line. Next time, she was only beaten a half length in a group one by Alcohol Free, who has boosted the form. She was third, beaten two and three quarter lengths, in the Juvenile Fillies’ race at the Breeders Cup. They then tried her at one mile and that, combined with heavy ground, was too much for her in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She was a non-runner in the Commonwealth Cup because of the heavy ground and I think she’s going to relish this particular test.

Selection

I’m going to side with OXTED to make history. He looked so good in the King’s Stand and it seems as though he has the perfect blend between speed and the necessary finishing kick that is so crucial in these races. It is likely to be a good test with horses like Art Power and Miss Amulet making the running from draws 17 and 10. They both have great each way chances, with Miss Amulet particularly overpriced. I’ve got a feeling that Emaaraty Ana and Garrus could outrun their odds too.

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