Tuesday, 10 July 2012
: This year's £452,000 Group One July Cup (2.40pm) is shaping up into a fascinating renewal with 21 contenders going forward, including supplementary entries Strong Suit and Dandy Boy, for the highlight of Darley July Cup Day of the Piper Heidsieck July Festival, Saturday, July 14.
The six-furlong contest, which has produced the European champion sprinter 25 times in the past 35 years, is the third British leg in the Global Sprint Challenge and part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Strong Suit is set to step down in trip after finishing 10th behind the world's best horse Frankel in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old has posted four Pattern wins over shorter distances, including when readily taking the Group Two Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs on Newmarket's Rowley Mile course in October.
Dandy Boy, one of five Irish-trained entries going forward, heads to Newmarket on the back of a career-best effort in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot on June 23, when he gave County Tipperary trainer David Marnane the biggest victory of his career to date.
The six-year-old's winning time of 1m 13.87s over Ascot's six furlongs was almost a quarter of a second quicker than Australian wondermare Black Caviar's victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the same card.
Bated Breath is on course for another crack at the Darley July Cup, having finished second to Dream Ahead in last year's renewal. Roger Charlton's charge, winner of the Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock Park in May, filled the runner-up spot on his latest start in the Group One King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19.
Last season's Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Society Rock, representing Newmarket handler James Fanshawe, flew home to take fifth after missing the break in the Royal Ascot contest this year, while Hoof It, narrowly beaten into third in the Group One Haydock Sprint Cup, could line up for Mick Easterby.
Sirius Prospect acquitted himself well on his Group One debut for trainer Dean Ivory with a close seventh in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The progressive four-year-old completed a four-timer last season that culminated with a cosy victory over Mayson in a Doncaster Listed contest on soft ground in November.
Ivory commented: "Sirius Prospect is definitely an intended runner in the Darley July Cup. I was delighted with his run in the Diamond Jubilee and he has come out of that race the best that he has come out of a race all year.
"He wore a hood and blinkers for the first time at Royal Ascot and he will be wearing both again at Newmarket. I think that it helps him a little bit because he can get a little bit wound up in the stalls, like a lot of sprinters do. I don't want to lose a length or two in races like this and it gives him a bit more focus.
"The ground won't be a problem for him, as long as it is not heavy. He seems to run on all ground and, ideally, I would be happy with good to soft or soft because we know he goes on it.
"It took a while for him to get going this season but I think his run in the Diamond Jubilee proved a lot. He was drawn the opposite side to Black Caviar and had to race away from the pace. If he puts in a similar race at Newmarket, then I would like to think that he will be there or thereabouts."
Three entries from the stable of Aidan O'Brien include this season's Group One Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Power, After and Reply, while the Coolmore
operation may also be represented by Fire Lily, a recent Group Three winner for David Wachman.
No Australian sprinter has won the Darley July Cup but Ortensia is set to provide a strong antipodean challenge this year. Paul Messara's mare disappointed in the King's Stand Stakes but had previously recorded a pair of comfortable Group One wins in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai and the Burswood-Winterbottom Stakes in Australia. Further international representation is due to be provided by Group One Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News victor Kryton Factor, who is trained in Bahrain by Fawzi Nass.
Others going forward include Hitchens and Libranno, who finished third and fourth respectively in last year's race, and the Godolphin pair of Soul and multiple Australian Group One winner Sepoy. Elnawin, Genki, Hawkeyethenoo and The Cheka complete the confirmations.
A seven-race card on Darley July Cup Day also features the £60,000 Group Two 32Red.Com Superlative Stakes (1.40pm) over seven furlongs and the historic £50,000 32Red Bunbury Cup over the same distance.
The Piper-Heidsieck July Festival starts on Thursday, July 12, Goldsmiths Ladies Day, and continues on Friday, July 13, with Abu Dhabi Day.