Steve Hughes previews the final day of the Newmarket July meeting plus a big day at York.
The final and most important day at Newmarket provides us with the most prestigious race of the week, the July Cup and the big betting race, the Bunbury Cup. I have two selections for each. There is a terrific card at York too with the £200k John Smith’s Cup the highlight.
York 2.05: Copper Knight
A fast and furious start to proceedings on the Knavesmire with a 5f listed contest.
Copper Knight appeals in a race largely featuring handicappers stepping up in grade. This 5yo still seems to be on the improve and almost defied top weight to land the Gosforth Park Cup for the second time at Newcastle two weeks ago. He just found one too good that day, but it shows he remains in great form having won a big handicap on this track back in May.
Very comfortable running up with the pace, he will always go well here with front-runners often favoured. It looks worth stepping up to listed company as he is weighted out of most 5f handicaps now and can race off level weights here against largely lower rated opponents.
Newmarket 3.30: Burnt Sugar & Ripp Orf
Two out and out 7f specialists are favoured for the Bunbury Cup.
Last year’s winner Burnt Sugar has to be considered from just a 3lb higher mark. A flat out 7f contest is what he needs so there are very few races in the calendar that will be run to suit him. As a result I am happy to forgive him two runs down the field at Haydock this season (on unsuitably soft ground as well). He followed up victory in this by winning two weeks later in the International Handicap at Ascot with today’s jockey Shane Kelly on board. Those two defeats have given the handicapper enough evidence to drop his mark back to a workable one.
Ripp Orf is another who has to have conditions right. He hated the undulations of Epsom last time, but had finished a fair fifth in the Victoria Cup at Ascot prior to that. He is back to the rating of 93 from which he last won, a big field 7f handicap at Ascot in the autumn. Still only five, he only really started racing in earnest at the start of 2018, so he is no back number and he looks a very solid each-way option, especially as he won at this meeting here last season, albeit over a mile.
York 3.50: Francis Xavier & Jazeel
I like two near the bottom of the weights for this hugely valuable pot.
Francis Xavier would I am sure be much shorter in the betting if he was with a much more fashionable trainer than Kevin Frost. However I suspect this race has been the cunning plan for some time. With a 4-7 record (the latter two for his current handler), Francis Xavier has the winning habit and he won all three starts in 2018. On each occasion he looked to have plenty in hand, so a 7lb rise since that last win at Pontefract looks fair. Although well beaten in a listed Goodwood race in May, I think that was merely a means of getting this 5yo fit for today and he seems to enjoy having plenty of space between races.
Jazeel’s chances are much more obvious as he has thrived since joining Jedd O’Keeffe this season. He had already won the Silver Cambridgeshire for Mick Channon last season, so big field handicaps are what he enjoys. He does have a 5lb penalty to carry for winning at Sandown last week, but in Sean Davis has one of the best apprentices around to reduce his burden by 3lbs. Ultra consistent, he looks overpriced as an each-way option.
Newmarket 4.40: Dream of Dreams & Fairyland
Two against the field in a wide open looking July Cup.
Dream of Dreams looks to have matured this season into a fine sprinter having constantly spoiled his chances by pulling too hard earlier in his career. He was flying at the finish when narrowly denied by Blue Point in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot and had previously won in smaller races at Chelmsford and Windsor. Fast ground suits him well and I am hoping that the rail draw will work to his advantage as he will get plenty of cover early. It will be down to Danny Tudhope to work a clear passage at the business end of the race, to provide trainer Michael Stoute with a rare Group 1 sprint win.
As an alternative Fairyland could finally have been found her best trip today. She won two group races as a juvenile including the Group 1 Cheveley Park on the Rowley Mile. However connections tried the classic route in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas. She was a blatant not-stayer each time. She was then beaten 3l in the Kings Stand at the Royal meeting over 5f. However her strong finish that day marks her as the ideal type for this step up to 6f.
1pt win – Copper Knight – 2.05 York – 9/4 general
0.5pts each-way – Burnt Sugar – 3.30 Newmarket – 11/1 Ladbrokes, Coral (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way- Ripp Orf – 3.30 Newmarket – 15/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Francis Xavier – 3.50 York – 28/1 BetVictor, Coral (1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Jazeel – 3.50 York – 12/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Dream of Dreams – 4.40 Newmarket – 4/1 general
1pt win – Fairyland – 4.40 Newmarket – 8/1 general