Race of The Day Saturday July 14
14:156f

Darley July Cup Stakes (Group 1)

Newmarket (July Course)

  • Current Favourite  Blue Point
  • Current Odds 100/30
Race Analysis Runners 14 Going Good-to-firm Distance 6f

Race Overview

The July Cup is the key sprint race in Britain’s midsummer calendar. Run over six-furlongs on the Newmarket July Course, it is a straight test of speed and is open to colts and fillies aged three-years and up. It offers a first prize in excess of £283,000 for winning connections ensuring it is viewed as one of Britain’s most valuable and prestigious sprint races of the season.

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Horse racing - sheikh mohammed charlie appleby

Favourite Blue Point

The Godolphin-owned Blue Point comes here on the back of a career-best run to win the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, continuing a fine summer for Derby-winning trainer Charlie Appleby. He must show the same finishing speed over this extra furlong in Group 1 company, but has run well at Headquarters before.

Horse racing Richard Fahey

Other Contenders

With defending champion Harry Angel on the easy-list, the challengers may be headed by Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar for Sir Michael Stoute. He was impressive at Ascot though he doesn’t hold much to spare over the re-opposing Sands Of Mali, trained by Richard Fahey (pictured). Aidan O’Brien hasn’t mastered this race since 2010 and drops US Navy Flag back in trip, while former winner Limato cannot be scoffed at back over this C&D. A rich cast also includes Aussie raider Redkirk Warrior.

Race Analysis

It must be viewed as a disappointment that reigning champion Harry Angel won’t be at Newmarket to defend his crown, but even without Clive Cox’s stable star we’ve got a cracking line-up for this midsummer Group 1 sprinting jackpot.

Harry Angel is of course recovering from a torrid time at Royal Ascot last month, where he got his hind leg stuck in the starting stalls before the gates opened and forfeited all chance before running a poor race. Cox has erred on the side of caution, something we’ll all likely see the benefit of later this season.

In his absence, the market is headed by King’s Stand winner Blue Point for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. The Boys in Blue are in the midst of a resurgent summer and what a joy it has been to see the iconic silks back claiming top prizes.

That Ascot performance was a standout effort so far in the career of the Shamardal colt. It came after he ran down the pace-setting Battaash, Jim Crowley’s mount having gone off at frantic fractions in front over the minimum distance.

The extra-furlong adds a new dimension now. The manner of his staying-on third in last summer’s Commonwealth Cup at Ascot will give Blue Point’s supporters belief and he’s a worthy favourite for this race.

Next in the betting is the Aidan O’Brien-trained US Navy Flag, who completed a rare Group 1 Middle Park/Dewhurst double at Newmarket last season. He’s been operating over a mile recently but spoiled his chance at Royal Ascot last month when going off too fast in the St James’s Palace Stakes and faded late.

Dropping back into this company over six-furlongs is a big ask and, coupled with his trainer having failed to win this since 2010, I’m happy to bypass him.

More interesting at around four times the price would be stablemate Sioux Nation, set to be partnered here by the excellent Seamie Heffernan. We all know the value to be had in the Ballydoyle ‘second strings’ and there were plenty positive murmurs about this Scat Daddy colt early in the season.

He’s already won a Group 3 in Ireland this term, and while he was bitterly disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup last time, he’s surely better than that effort. One poor run is forgivable and, sent off 11/4 favourite there, he’s as big as 20/1 now and could bounce right back for a place.

Limato won this contest in 2016 and gave best only to Harry Angel last summer in a credible defence. Henry Candy’s charge was a decisive winner over 7f at Newmarket in the autumn and doesn’t appear to have stayed a mile in two runs this term. The drop in trip is a big plus for him here but, on balance, it seems unlikely he’s going to regain this crown.

Three-year-old’s have a strong July Cup record of late, with three wins since 2011.

The rapidly improving Eqtidaar is a viable contender to build on that record. Sir Michael Stoute’s runner raised his personal bar when scorching home in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month. With just five runs behind him, he clearly has plenty of scope for doing better and it is dangerous to pass over him.

His nearest pursuer was SANDS OF MALI at Ascot, a fast-finishing second under Paul Hanagan. He wasn’t quite up with the early pace as we’ve seen before this term and became a little outpaced around three-furlongs out. He rallied to excellent effect late on and might well have collared the winner given another 100 yards. In the hopes that he’s closer to the pace throughout, Richard Fahey’s runner is an appealing 8/1 shot in an open July Cup, as he’s almost sure to be flying at the finish.

We finish our look ahead with two of the more unquantifiable contenders.

Redkirk Warrior has created a real niche for himself in Australia since turning to sprinting, winning Group 1s over both 5f and 6f already this year. He arrived at Royal Ascot with a burgeoning reputation but did not run his race behind Merchant Navy in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Connections have once more been trumpeting his claims but it is hard to be confident on the back of that Ascot showing, despite regular rider Regan Bayliss having flown in. If Frankie Dettori can’t rise a tune, it might be the instrument.

John Gosden’s Dreamfield meanwhile so nearly pulled off a big gamble in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, eventually going down by just a neck to Bacchus in that 28-runner scrum. His trainer has always thought plenty of the lightly-raced Oasis Dream colt and it is no surprise that he’s turning out in Group-race company now. For what he has achieved though, he looks a bit short in the betting at 9/1 here.

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Betting.net Selection

Sands Of Mali
8/1
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Betting.net Danger

Sioux Nation
20/1

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Written by Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is an Irish-based racing writer with an increasing portfolio of work on British and Irish racing. His daily routine is race-by-race form analysis, both on the Flat and over jumps. While the racing world must keep on turning, he is quite sure that no horse will ever pull at his heartstrings quite as much as the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.