Tuesday, 10 July 2012
: The three-day Piper-Heidsieck July Festival at Newmarket - one of the midsummer highlights of the Flat season - gets underway at the July course on Thursday and features a strong international flavour.
Darley July Cup
The highlight is the Group 1 Darley July Cup at 2.40pm on Saturday, in which Aussie raider Ortensia will bid to show her Royal Ascot form to be all wrong.
The Paul Messara-trained Ortensia won the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on World Cup night but was then ninth in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and ridden by Craig Williams on both occasions.
William Buick looks to have the mount now and Messara said: "Prior to the King's Stand she didn't seem to handle the environment. She got upset in the pre-parade ring and broke out into quite a big sweat.
"By the time of the race she was very revved up and agitated and had run her race before she had even got there. She ran an average race and pulled up with a sore back but everything's settled down now.
"Her last piece of work was excellent on the course proper here. We are very pleased with her going into the race."
Bated Breath, second in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot, will be a warm favourite for the six-furlong (1200m) dash, in which there are 21 six-day acceptors.
Aidan O'Brien relies on the three-year-olds Power, Reply and After, while Richard Hannon's Strong Suit and the Irish challenger Dandy Boy have been supplemented into the race for £30,000 apiece.
Dandy Boy was last seen winning the Wokingham at Royal Ascot and his trainer David Marnane said: "He pleased us going into Ascot and has pleased us as much, if not more, since coming out of Ascot."
Sepoy is another leading player to stand his ground. The latter now represents Godolphin and was four-times a Group 1 winner in Sheikh Mohammed's colours Down Under when in the care of Peter Snowden.
However, the son of Elusive Quality finished well beaten in the Golden Shaheen on his first run for Mahmood Al Zarooni, who said: "He's a good horse and he's back now. When he arrived here (in Newmarket) he was a bit down. We gave him an easy time to recover. He has recovered and is in good form."
Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes
Abu Dhabi Day on Friday promises superb racing with a host of Group 1 winners from Britain, Ireland and France among the six-day confirmations for the £160,000 Group 1 Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes at 3pm.
A total of 21 contenders have stood their ground for the mile (1600m) contest, which gives the Classic generation of fillies their first chance to take on the older generation of the fairer sex at the highest level.
A strong challenge from across the Channel this year is set to include dual French Classic winner Golden Lilac, from the stable of legendary Chantilly handler Andre Fabre. The four-year-old looked better than ever on her latest start when readily beating Cirrus Des Aigles in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp in May.
Fellow four-year-old Giofra will head to Newmarket in search of a first Group 1 success, but her Chantilly trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is hopeful that the lightly-raced filly can progress to victory at the highest level.
The daughter of Dansili was runner-up to Cirrus Des Aigles on unsuitably heavy ground in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at the same course later the same month.
Royer-Dupre commented: "She is a very good filly and I expect her to handle the step down to a mile.
It's a straight mile at Newmarket and I think that she has enough speed for the drop in distance. Christophe Soumillon will be riding her.
"I think that she has the ability to win a Group 1 - I don't know when it will happen, but she has that quality."
Further French interest could be provided by Group 2 Prix Corrida third Siyouma, whose trainer Francois Doumen is chasing a first Group 1 success on the Flat in Britain to add to his numerous big-race wins over Jumps in this country.
A total of six confirmations from Ireland include the Dermot Weld-trained Emulous, winner of the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in September, and dual Group 3 scorer Alanza, representing John Oxx.
A quartet of three-year-olds from the all-conquering stable of Aidan O'Brien includes Maybe,
successful in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last term, Group 3 Jersey Stakes winner Ishvana plus Up and After, who finished second and fourth respectively in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp in May.
John Gosden has been enjoying an hugely successful summer and the Newmarket handler has three fillies going forward including recent Royal Ascot winners Fallen For You, winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, and Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes heroine Joviality. The trainer may also be represented by Elusive Kate, who captured the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October.
However, Gosden believes Golden Lilac will be near-enough unbeatable, saying: "I'd expect the favourite to win, and to win well, she's that good.
"I've been overly impressed with her. Andre Fabre is the best trainer in Europe and he likes her. She's a queen of a filly."
Mick Channon could run Samitar, who gave the former England football international a first major Classic success in the Group 1 Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 27, while Sir Henry Cecil has engaged Chachamaidee, who went down by a neck to Joviality at Royal Ascot.
A seven-race card on Abu Dhabi Day also features a pair of valuable contests over six furlongs (1200m) - the £60,000 Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cherry Hinton Stakes (2.25pm) and the £100,000 Betfred 'The Bonus King' Heritage Handicap (1.50pm).
Princess of Wales's Goldsmiths Stakes
The Piper-Heidsieck July Festival starts on Thursday, when the £109,150 Group 2 Princess of Wales's Goldsmiths Stakes (3.00pm) is the highlight of Goldsmiths Ladies Day.
The mile and a half contest (2400m) has 14 horses going forward today, including Godolphin's Modun, who was supplemented for the race at a cost of £10,000. The five-year-old son of King's Best was victorious in the Group 3 September Stakes over the same distance on the Polytrack at Kempton Park last season for his former trainer Sir Michael Stoute and was last seen out when fourth in a Group 3 contest over a mile and three quarters on turf at Meydan, Dubai, on March 1.
Modun's trainer Saeed bin Suroor commented: "Modun looks in good order at the moment. He did his main piece of work a week and a half a go and is ready to run. He won a Group 3 over a mile and a half at Kempton last year and I expect the return to that distance will suit."
Sir Michael Stoute has a fabulous record in the race, having sent out the winner on eight occasions, most recently with Crystal Capella in 2011. His possible representative this year is Fiorente, runner-up to Nathaniel in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last season.
Fellow Newmarket handler Ed Dunlop could run Red Cadeaux. Last year's Melbourne Cup second has been a model of consistency in 2012, landing the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup and taking the runner-up spot in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and third in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Aidan O'Brien has left in last year's Investec Derby runner-up and Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach, while there is a possible French representative in the Mikel Delzangles-trained Vadamar, who was third in a Group 1 contest over 12 furlongs (2400m) at San Siro, Italy, last time out.
There is also a Group 2 contest for two-year-olds on Goldsmiths Ladies Day, the £60,000 TNT July Stakes (1.50pm) over six furlongs (1200m). Richard Hannon has won the TNT July Stakes four times in the past, most recently with Libranno in 2010, and has three entries this year including Sir Prancealot, who finished fourth on the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, having endured trouble in running.
Back to Saturday and Fair Trade tops the 39 six-day entries for the £150,000 John Smith's Cup at York at 3pm on Saturday and will bid to give weight to all of his rivals in the 10-furlong contest (2000m).
Luca Cumani's Danadana will be prominent in the betting markets as he looks to complete a hat-trick while Mijhaar ran well to finish third in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot and is set to represent Roger Varian.