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Back to HQ for the July Festival

13 Jul 2017

All roads lead back to HQ and this year’s Newmarket July Festival promises to be a cracker, with the mouthwatering Champions Series Darley July Cup having a stellar entry list, including the unbeaten Caravaggio. More about him later.

I feel like I’ve been in decent form over the past few weeks, picking up some winners along the way, and just missing out on a couple more. Somebody has to come 2nd, but I’ll be a very happy man if I can start turning those 2’s into 1’s over the next few days!

I’ve been lucky over the past year or so at Newmarket and enjoy both courses. Both the July and Rowley Mile are similar in that the race develops from about 3 furlongs out. They’re both fair tracks so it’s a level playing field- and may the best horses win!

Let’s begin with the race everyone is talking about, the Darley July Cup. The July Course always has a pretty lush coating of grass as it is never overly raced on, however with the Sprinters turning up for the July Cup this year it could be getting scorched come 3.45 on Saturday!

The obvious place to start is with the unbeaten Caravaggio. If you asked me what I would ride it would certainly be him. He’s getting weight from the older horses, add to that his electrifying turn of pace, he’s certainly the one who jumps off the page. However, I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion by any means. It’s as competitive a Group 1 Sprint as you get and their are plenty of dangers lurking in the field.

The Tin Man won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot with an impressive turn of foot. My feeling is he’ll have to improve on that to take this. Giving weight to the younger horses is never easy but you can’t rule him out being able to do so. I would say that if Caravaggio is to be beaten Harry Angel would be the one to do so having given him something to think about last time and he will get weight from the older horses as well. Aidan O’Brien’s colt is a very worthy favourite though and this could be an absolute cracker.

The Champions Series feature race on Friday is the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes. I don’t have a ride in this, however I’ve ridden Roly Poly out at Ballydoyle. She’s a tough filly and if the ground remains fast she’s going to love it. My pick for this though is Wuheida. If she’s at her best she’ll certainly be the one they all have to beat. She’s always looked like she’ll be better at 3 and I’d go with her to land the spoils.

Sticking with Friday at Newmarket, I’ve certainly got some rides worth getting excited about.

Leshlaa looks the pick of those for Saeed Bin Suroor. He looks to have a pretty decent chance here over the 10 furlongs. He’s won at Newmarket before on the Rowley Mile course, and ran really well at Ascot after that. A lot of runners in the field could potentially be well handicapped, including mine, so hopefully he can run a good race.

I’ve picked up another for the in-form Simon Crisford and will be riding Al Ozzdi in the penultimate race on the card. I’ve certainly been enjoying getting the call from Simon over the past week or so having won on Archetype at Sandown last Saturday, as well as Maakaasib on Wednesday over at Kempton. As I eluded to in my last blog post he’s a shrewd trainer with a high strike rate, so it’s a pleasure to be getting the leg up on any runners for his yard right now. Al Ozzdi has been going very well at home and I’d be delighted if I can get Simon another winner on the board.

Ralph Beckett‘s two-year-olds are going well of late, and I ride Parisian. It’s his first race and hopefully he can go well without getting knocked about. Certainly a nice prospect for the future.

Out Of The Flames missed her engagement at Windsor, and so comes into this fresh from Ascot. She’s trained well since her last race going into this hot Group 2. She’s a wholly uncomplicated filly, and from a nice draw I’ll keep things simple with her. She’s learning all the time back at the yard and on just her 4th race I’m hopeful she can run a big race in this.

Saturday my only ride at Newmarket is Polybius before I whisk myself off to Ascot and then later Salisbury. The race split in two in the Wokingham and he was second on his side to one of Roger Charlton’s. The winner came up the other side but there was no hard luck story for him there. The 5 furlong trip won’t be a problem for him. This is a competitive race and he’s a hold up horse who will need some luck in running.

Horse To Follow: Harbour Rock, Salisbury

I ride for David Simcock. Hopefully he can improve from 2 to 3 like most Harbour Watch offspring.