July Festival Preview
Dry weather brings the prospect of good fast ground on the July Course as Newmarket prepares for its annual summer racing-fest. Quality horses in exquisite surroundings make this one of the most popular fixtures in the calendar.
Godolphin, buoyed by the G1 Coral-Eclipse victory of stable flagship Hawkbill, have a number of interesting runners over the three days, commencing with Prize Money, who is joined by Race Day, in the G3 Bahrain Trophy, over one mile, five furlongs.
If form lines count for anything, Prize Money should be the one to beat, having finished second, beaten a length and a quarter, to Hawkbill in the G3 Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot. The subsequent G1 triumph of the winner emphatically franks the form.
Saeed bin Suroor said: "The longer distance should hopefully suit him and he deserves to take his chance. We will see if staying is going to be his game."
The G2 July Stakes has attracted one of the strongest fields in recent memory, with Silver Line carrying the Godolphin royal blue on his first outing since finishing a creditable third to Prince Of Lir and The Last Lion in the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"I couldn't be happier with Silver Line," Saeed said. "He has improved since Ascot and has been working well. I feel the step up in trip will suit, so will the ground."
Ardad won a Listed race at the Royal meeting, Irish raider Intelligence Cross was impressive in winning at the Curragh recently, but Broken Stones, who by-passed Ascot, is fresh and may pose the biggest threat to Silver Line.
Godolphin's Elite Army comes to the G2 Princess Of Wales's Stakes off the back of an excellent second in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes in which he battled hard all the way to the line. He is being ear-marked for important targets in Australia later in the year and must improve his rating to gain entry to those races.
Saeed said: "Although he had a hard race at Ascot, he has done very well since. He has been working nicely and deserves to take his chance at G2 level."
The Grey Gatsby takes an adventurous step up to a mile and a half but likes fast ground, which is a big plus, while Exosphere attempts to redeem his reputation after a disappointing run at Ascot last time. This is an intriguing contest that may prove the highlight of the first day.
Other points of interest for Godolphin followers are Nasimi in Friday's G2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes - she was impressive in winning her only start at Haydock - while Usherette is joined by Always Smile and Very Special in the G1 Falmouth Stakes.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said of Nasimi: "She was very impressive on her debut, and the second has since won a Listed race. Hopefully, she will be suited by the track, and if that is the case, I expect her to be competitive."
Trainer Andre Fabre has stated that Usherette is one of the best fillies he has trained. This makes her very special indeed and a real drawcard on the second day of the meeting. Fabre said: "She has come out of her Ascot run very well and is very much on target for the Falmouth, which should suit her perfectly."
Saeed is hopeful for Bin Battuta: "Physically he has done well since his maiden win. The seven furlongs will suit, and we are looking forward to a big run." But Appleby said of Boynton: "I was delighted with his first run and he has come out of the race well. He deserves to take his chance in this stronger race."
Jungle Cat will be returning to six furlongs for the first time in four outings.
Appleby reported: "He is in great order and I am looking forward to having him back over six on a sound surface. These sprint races are very competitive but I am confident that he will give a good account of himself."