The July Cup (3.50pm, Newmarket, Saturday) is the highlight of the July Festival at Newmarket and this year has a cosmopolitan feel with contenders from Australia, Bahrain, South Africa and the USA among the 12 runners.
South African trainer Mike de Kock expects Shea Shea (7/2) to be fitter than he was at Royal Ascot, where he was beaten a neck by Sole Power (9/1) in the King’s Stand Stakes, over 5 furlongs, but concedes that all his best form has been at the minimum trip. However, Shea Shea did win Grade 1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint over 6 furlongs at Scotsville as a four-year-old, when trained by Geoff Woodruff, so he remains a potent threat to all.
Sole Power, on the other hand, has been beaten on all four attempts beyond 5 furlongs, most recently when 9th of 14, beaten 4½ lengths, in the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December 2011. He came with a strong run to rest the spoils from Shea Shea over the stiff 5 furlongs at Ascot in the King’s Stand Stakes but, even so, he’s taking on several bona fide Group 1 performers over 6 furlongs and is hard to fancy.
The first three home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, Lethal Force (4/1), Society Rock (5/1) and Krypton Factor (16/1) reoppose once again but, on the same terms, there appears to be no reason why Lethal Force shouldn’t confirm the form. The son of Dark Angel quickened clear with a furlong to run on that occasion and stayed on strongly to beat Society Rock by 2 lengths, with Krypton Factor a further 1¾ lengths away in third and Slade Power (11/1) and Havelock (33/1) further behind. The return to sprinting seems a shrewd move on the part of his trainer, Clive Cox, and he seems sure to be a tough nut to crack once again.
Gale Force Ten (7/1) was also a winner at Royal Ascot, rallying gamely inside the final furlong to beat Montiridge by a head in the Jersey Stakes, over 7 furlongs. That form alone probably isn’t quite good enough to win a July Cup, but he finished fourth in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Longchamp, second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh and, as importantly, third in the Middle Park Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Newmarket on his final start as a juvenile. He didn’t appear to be crying out for a return to sprinting at Ascot, but his sire, Oasis Dream, won this race in 2003 and his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has won it three times before.
Of those at longer prices, Shamexpress (16/1) could finish only ninth behind Sole Power in the King’s Stand Stakes on his first start since March, but had previously won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, over 6 furlongs, and may do a little better with an extra furlong to travel. Hamza (16/1) is a course and distance winner, but steps into Group company for the first time and has plenty to find with the principals on official BHA ratings, Sovereign Debt (20/1) is better known as a miler and hasn’t raced over 6 furlongs since his 2-year-old days and Zanetto (50/1) looks outclassed.
July Cup Betting Tips Conclusion
On recent form Lethal Force looks the one to beat, but Shea Shea and Gale Force Ten, in particular, appear to have decent prospects of lowering his colours. Our betting tips advice is to back GALE FORCE TEN each-way at a best price of 7/1 with William Hill to join previous Ballydoyle winners Stravinksy, Mozart and Starspangledbanner on the July Cup roll of honour.