The Group 1 Darley July Cup scheduled for Newmarket on Saturday 14 July promises to live up to its star billing and the news that last month’s Group 1 Commonwealth Cup hero Eqtidaar is now an intended runner adds further spice to the mix.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained three-year-old, ridden by former champion jockey Jim Crowley, carried the colours of owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum to a half-length success over the fast-finishing Sands Of Mali in the six-furlong top level contest at the royal meeting. He has reportedly come out of the race in good shape and is expected to be ready to take on some of the best older sprinters in the business on the July Course as he bids to give his handler a first success in the prestigious sprint since Ajdal provided Stoute with his third win in six years when taking the 1987 renewal under the late Walter Swinburn.
“I spoke to Sir Michael Stoute on Monday,” confirmed Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold, “and he says Eqtidaar has come out of the Commonwealth Cup in good shape and he would be keen to run him in the Darley July Cup. I can’t say how he will handle the July Course, though I don’t foresee that he should be particularly hindered by the contours.
“[The probable fast] ground is an interesting question – obviously we are still learning about this horse and he did handle soft ground well at Ascot earlier in the summer, but equally he won on faster ground at the Royal meeting so it is a bit of an unknown. We will just have to take what we are given. The one thing that Jim Crowley said was that in his opinion the horse would improve and might well get faster with racing.”
Eqtidaar could well face old rival Sands of Mali once again with the latter’s trainer, Richard Fahey, also indicating that hsi charge is likely to run in the Newmarket feature.
King’s Stand Stakes winner Blue Point currently heads the market at 7/2 with Totesport, last year’s winner Harry Angel is 6/1 with William Hill, while Aidan O’Brien’s US Navy Flag is also a 6/1 shot with BetBright. Eqtidaar is a top priced 9/1 with 888Sport, and Sands of Mali is a 10/1 chance with BetStars.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.