This year’s renewal of the July Cup is about the soft going that the 12-strong field will encounter in this era of ‘global warming’. It may not be the best horse that wins but the one who is least troubled by the soggy surface. Here are some thoughts on the horses to follow and those to avoid.
In the light of the weather forecast it is difficult to fancy Ortensia. Her trainer Paul Messara has been bullish about her chances but aren’t Aussie’s generally known for their optimism? She was very disappointing at Royal Ascot starting as the favourite in the King’s Stand Stakes over the same distance but only managed to finish ninth. Messara thought that the preliminaries had got to her. Yes, she did get into a bit of a state in the paddock but that does not explain why she finished with ‘a bit of sore back’. She would also prefer a much sounder surface than she is likely to encounter at Newmarket on Saturday. We have to delete this horse from the short list unless the ground dries out quickly.
The five year old, James Fanshawe’s Society Rock should be able to handle the likely going. This son of Rock of Gibraltar won the Golden Jubilee Stakes on soft ground at Ascot last year and also got second at Deauville in the six and a half furlong Prix Maurice De Gheest, running on well in the final stages to get within four lengths of Moonlight Cloud.
More recently at Royal Ascot he ran on well in the final furlong of Diamond Jubilee Stakes after getting upset in the stalls and starting very slowly under Johnny Murthagh. The jockey thought he would otherwise have beaten Black Caviar that day. If he does not miss the break, Society Rock has to be a serious contender to plough through the yielding conditions best of all and confirm favouritism in the July Cup betting.
Irish raider, David Marnane’s Dandy Boy has been supplemented for this race on the back of his surprise win of the Wokingham at Royal Ascot over the same distance on ground described as good. This six year old son of Danetime started the race a 33-1 outsider and beat David Barron’s Waffle by one and a quarter lengths. This is a very different class of race but we suspect Marnane would not have suggested that owner Malih Lahej Al Basti fork out the cash to enter the race if he was not confident of a good run.
Dandy Boy won his maiden as a two year old at Fairyhouse over six furlongs on soft going so he is no less well qualified to handle the likely surface than many of the other runners. He is long priced enough to make an each-way bet interesting.
Richard Hannon’s Strong Suit failed to impress over a mile at Royal Ascot but he has been supplemented to take his chance in the July Cup and has to be taken seriously. He has scored in the past over six and seven furlongs and posted a second to Dream Ahead in his two year old season in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on soft ground. So there is hope that it will not inconvenience him.
With Bated Breath a non-runner because of the going, Society Rock has to be our preferred selection to win the July Cup with Dandy Boy an interesting each-way betting chance.