I have never been a great admirer of the July course at Newmarket, but their three-day July meeting is a mid-summer highlight for some. Ahead of the opening day, we don’t know which side of the course will be favoured – but one will although it is difficult to water consistently across the track.
The Group 3 Bahrain Trophy is the first big race of the meeting, and I was a big fan of MASEKELA as a juvenile and his fourth in the Derby last month – albeit beaten over 8L – is the best for on offer in this trial for the final classic of the season.
Charlie Appleby trained the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago and he saddles Walk Of Life who finished last at Epsom but that was obviously not his running. His previous second in the Lingfield Derby trial is decent form given he had the progressive Zechariah – who reopposes today – behind but I do hope to see Masekela cement his place near the top of the betting for the St Leger at Doncaster in September.
The form of Little Brown Bear’s Windsor Castle success over 5f at Royal Ascot was given a boost when the runner-up Rocket Rodney ran out a facile winner of the Dragon Stakes at Sandown last weekend. The step up to 6f will clearly suit the Ballydoyle representative in the Group 2 July Stakes but I am keen on the prospects of PERSIAN FORCE (NAP) and the Richard Hannon-trained juvenile gets the vote.
The Hannon stable have saddled the winner of the corresponding race five times in the last decade – including in 2021 with Lusail - and the selection might have been drawn on the wrong part of the track when losing his unbeaten record in the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting. He is taken to return to winning ways.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup turf winner YIBR escapes a penalty for that Group 1 success in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes and I think you can put a line through his latest third in the Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park given he was slowly away, and it was reported he banged his head in the stalls.
He was a fluent winner of the Bahrain Trophy here 12 months ago so we know the track suits and he can reverse Jockey Club Stakes form with Living Legend at the revised terms this afternoon.
On a line through Broome, he has a bit in hand of market rival Mostahdaf, and, at his best, he is a bit better than today’s field. If over his globetrotting exertions he should be tough to beat. William Buick takes the ride for Charlie Appleby.
The William Haggas-trained Persist finished second on her side in the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot and looks a worthy favourite in the 1m 1f handicap, but I thought Ed Bethell’s 3-y-old gelding RICH KING looked one to keep on side when scoring at Haydock last time and he gets the vote.
That success was gained over an extended 10f but the way he travelled through his race suggested this slight drop in trip would not be an inconvenience. A 6lbs rise is no help but he gets the vote in what promises to be a most informative contest.
In the extended 1m 5f handicap both Australian Angel and WAGGA WAGGA have done us favours in recent weeks, but I take Hughie Morrison’s 3-y-old to make it three wins in his last four starts with the excellent Richard Kingscote taking over in the saddle.
The colt has been raised 11lbs for running away with a 12f handicap at Pontefract last time but can race under “just” a 6lbs penalty this evening. The further he went the better he looked in west Yorkshire last time although you could argue that effort cam on good to soft ground – certainly softer than the official description of good.
The classic generation have only won one of the six renewals of the race, but I would be surprised if one of the three-year-olds did not win this evening.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.