Saturday’s Group 1 Darley July Cup on the final day of the three-day Newmarket July Festival promises to be a cracker and includes a rematch between star three-year-old sprinters Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali.
Richard Fahey’s Sands of Mali, the mount of former champion jockey Paul Hanagan (pictured above), winner of last term’s Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes and this season’s Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in May, went down by just half a length to Sir Michael Stoute’s Eqtidaar in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot a few weeks ago. Hopes are high that the talented son of Panis will give another good account of himself against his Ascot conqueror and the cream of the top older sprinters in one of Europe’s top six furlong contests.
The Group One Commonwealth Cup goes to Eqtidaar under Jim Crowley in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum.
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) June 22, 2018
“He’s going well, we’re happy with him and the plan is to run,” Fahey told reporters this weekend. “We’ll take what we get with the ground. He’s proven on soft ground and he’s proven on quick ground. If I had a choice I’d go for soft, as it might inconvenience others, but it won’t be an excuse for us either way.”
“Eqtidaar is a shorter price than us, and he beat us at Ascot so I suppose he’s entitled to be,” continued the Yorkshire-based handler, “but we didn’t have the best of the draw that day and I’m looking forward to having another go against him.”
Eqtidaar, who improved at least 7lb on his previous form to win at Ascot, is currently a 7/1 shot with BetBright to land back-to-back Group 1 successes, while Sands Of Mali is as big as 10/1 with Sportingbet. Blue Point, very impressive when landing the five furlongs Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting is a top priced 7/2 market leader with Bet365, while last year’s winner Harry Angel, who got trapped in the stalls at Ascot is 6/1 with Paddy Power to defend his crown, alongside Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up US Navy Flag, a 6/1 shot 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.