There’s not been much for Brits to shout about recently. A calamitous General Election has left nobody any the wiser as to who is actually mandated to run the country – it’s unlikely the DUP thought they would hold any aces at 10 Downing Street, and discussions continue as to whether we need a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit or a sort of Playdough-consistency Brexit.
Oh, and Andy Murray got knocked out of Wimbledon.
So how can we rise ourselves from this collective sense of doom? Well, if there is one thing British people know how to do its party. And bet. And get dressed up in their finery, drink too much in the sun and wake up sunburnt, hungover and miserable.
Still, if the day/night is worth the hangover, then where’s the harm? And at Newmarket this weekend the July Festival promises to be one hell of a party.
What is the July Festival?
The July Festival, or the Moet & Chandon July Festival to give it its full and commercialised moniker, brings together some of the world’s finest flat racers for a long weekend of fetlocks and frivolity on the famous course.
It all kicked off today actually with Ladies Day, a celebration of fillies of all kinds. A great card of Group 2 and 3 racing has kept punters entertained, with the promise of two more days worth of action to come.
Friday is Gentleman’s Day, although how many gentlemen will be left on course after a day of drinking overpriced and overwarm ale in East Anglia is anybody’s guess.
Still, a high quality day of flat racing is in the offing, with the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes and the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge being the obvious standouts of a packed card.
On Saturday it is all about the Darley July Cup, one of the most prestigious sprint races on the planet. Who will take the crown as a powerful prized asset?
There’s also the bet365 Mile Handicap Stakes and the Superlative Stakes; not a day to be sniffed at.
As with any horse racing festival, there’s money to be made if we play our cards right, so can we pick through the racecard and identify any winners?
Friday July 14
If the going remains good, as was the official mark on Thursday, then we can expect some rapid race times to be recorded, which naturally plays into the hands of some horses more than others.
The Duchess of Cambridge Stakes is only run over 6f, so it really is a case of blink and you’ll miss it. And for that reason I quite like the chances of Clemmie (5/2) over the favourite Nyaleti (9/2).
The Aidan O’Brien trained filly has recorded faster split times than her opponent, and stayed on well at a fat pace to take the Grangecon Stud Stakes at the start of July. Meanwhile Nyaleti was almost edged into third in her last start in the listed Chesham Stakes, so Clemmie feels like the smart bet there.
The Falmouth Stakes is under starters orders at 3:30pm, and while a strong case can be made for the bookies favourite, Roly Poly, it is hard to overlook the fact that the three-year-old is without a win in seven starts.
Instead, let’s give Arabian Hope a try. She has won her last three outings priced at Evens, 3/1 and 6/1 respectively, and while those were at a lower class than those ran by Roly Poly winning becomes a bit of a habit.
Saturday July 15
On paper, the July Cup looks set to be a straight dogfight between Caravaggio and Limato.
Caravaggio’s record reads six starts, six wins, with the majority of those coming on good ground. But he has never started on the 7f trip, and so we have to question whether he will stay the course or not in a high tempo race. There has been no suggestion of him fading at any point in his career to date, but a debutant at Newmarket offers as many questions as answers.
Limato’s form reads 6-10-3, so there’s little there to really get the juices flowing. Forgetting four wins in 2014, the five-year-old has only won three of eight starts since, and that’s not enough to get me to part with my hard earned.
Maybe a touch on The Tin Man each way at 7/1 is worth a go. He won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June after being blocked in for part of the race, and took down another Group 1 at the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at the tail-end of 2016.
The firm ground should suit, and with this pedigree in big races I’m happy to spend some pocket money on The Tin Man.