The July Festival is the highlight of the summer season at Newmarket and includes seven Group races over the course of the meeting including the Darley July Cup on the Saturday, historically Europe’s greatest sprint race, which has been won by great horses such as Chief Singer, Green Desert, Oasis Dream and Dream Ahead. As part of the Global Sprint Challenge, the Darley July Cup tends to attract a strong international entry as well as the top British and European talent.
The festival’s other Group 1 race, the Falmouth Stakes, provides the first opportunity to see how the current crop of top fillies compare with their elders.
This meeting traditionally showcases the emerging equine stars with no less than three Group 2 races for two-year-olds including the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes which has often been an initial stomping ground for fillies who have gone on to be successful in Classic races and Group 1 contests during their three-year-old campaigns the following year; and the Group 2 Superlative Stakes on Saturday, with successful previous winners being horses like Olympic Glory and Dubai.
There are also two Heritage Handicaps on the Thursday and Saturday, the Handicap Stakes and the ultracompetitive Bunbury Cup respectively.
On the historical side of things, the Newmarket Town Plate is a horse race which has been run at Newmarket's Round Course since 1666. The race was instigated by King Charles II, who also won the first running. He stated that it should be run 'forever'. This year’s renewal will take place ahead of racing at 1pm on Thursday, 13th July, the first day of the July Festival.
Festival Sound Bites
Frankie- do you remember me?
The fixture was given a boost at the weekend when Frankie Dettori confirmed he would be back in action at the three-day meeting.
Dettori rides Crowned Eagle in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy (Click here), the fixture's opening race in which he will be bidding to add to both his and trainer John Gosden's good record in a race often seen as a St Leger trial.
Dettori rode out for Gosden on Thursday after which he said: "The shoulder seems fine and I've done lots of swimming and physio."
King of the wild frontier
Charlie Appleby sends Frontiersman into battle in this week's Princess of Wales's Arqana Racing Club Stakes (Click here).
A son of Dubawi out of the top class mare Ouija Board, the four-year-old bolted up in a Rowley Mile handicap in early May before running in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.
He performed admirably in defeat to fill the runner-up spot behind Highland Reel and Appleby is excited about his chances on the July Course this Thursday.
Goodwood at Newmarket
Richard Hughes is sending the fast-improving Goodwood Crusader to the Newmarket July Festival on Thursday to contest the bet365 Handicap (Click here).
The three-year-old has struck up a superb partnership with conditional jockey Finley Marsh and will go to Newmarket searching for his sixth consecutive win.
Trainer Richard Hughes said: “Goodwood Crusader will go back to Newmarket on July 13 for the valuable six-furlong handicap that day.
“A change of riding tactics and getting him gelded has probably helped him as has a bit of sun on his back.
“He gets on great with Finley Marsh and that is probably half the key to him as well. He has exceeded our expectations.
“Let’s try and win a £100,000 handicap first before thinking of the next stage.”
Wuheida makes her seasonal return in the Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.
Last year's Prix Marcel Boussac winner suffered a setback in April which ruled her out of the Newmarket Classic, as well as the Oaks.
Trainer Charlie Appleby gave the daughter of Dubawi a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford last Wednesday and plans to run her this Friday.
Wuheida is one of just nine left in the Falmouth Stakes at the six-day stage. The market is headed by Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly (Click here)
Despite winning last year’s Darley Cup at Newmarket, and a top race in France, owner Paul Jacobs dispensed with Bentley’s services after an unsuccessful run at the Dubai World Cup meeting – he didn’t want his horse to have “bad memories of the experience” was the strange reasoning behind the jocking-off of Bentley.
“Harry is a perfect gent,” said the owner, who believes the reunited horse and rider can become first back-to-back winners of the race since Lester Piggott steered Right Boy to successive victories in 1958 and 1959.
Rematch on the cards
Caravaggio and Harry Angel are on course for an eagerly-awaited rematch in the Darley July Cup on Saturday
A total of 23 horses remain in the Group One contest, including The Tin Man, Tasleet and Limato, the first three home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
It is the three-year-olds however that head the betting with Aidan O'Brien confirming the July Cup will be taken in before Caravaggio eventually goes over to Australia in October for the Everest Stakes, the richest race in the world on turf.
Clive Cox is looking forward to another crack at the Commonwealth Cup winner.
"I am delighted with the way Harry Angel has come out of his Royal Ascot run and at this stage I am looking very positively towards sending him to the July Cup," said Cox.
"The Darley July Cup is bang up there as one of the world's iconic sprint races, even more so since the inception of the Commonwealth Cup as it brings together the older and younger generations of sprinters for the first time."
Caravaggio heads 888sport’s ante-post market (Click here) on the race at 11/10, with Royal Ascot runner-up Harry Angel a 6/1 chance along with Limato.