It is one of the busiest sporting weekends of the year, with Wimbledon, the Cricket World Cup final and the British Grand Prix all happening right here in the UK. Saturday is of course day three of the July Festival at HQ Newmarket and that is very much at the forefront of my mind. They also race at Ascot, Chester, York, Newton Abbott, Salisbury and Hamilton.
My attention is on York to start the afternoon for the Listed John Smith's City Walls Stakes at 2.05 over 5f. Caspian Prince takes a drop in class having been found wanting at pattern level recently and the ten-year-old could still be a factor at this level; he won’t be getting any better at that age though! Copper Knight has gone well here a few times but might find things happening too quickly at this level. Final Venture has three ducks in a row as form this season and has perhaps been unlucky to get run down a couple of times; it is noted he has never won here in five attempts. Emblazoned couldn’t live with the best in the 6f Diamond Jubilee Stakes but this is a big step down in class and as a lightly raced 4yo the colt may have more to give yet. He is the tentative pick at 9-2.
We stay at York for the 2.40 the 1m6f Group Three John Smith's Silver Cup Stakes. Weekender is yet to win at black type level and does appear to save his best for Chelmsford. Gold Mount moved from Hon Kong in the spring to the yard of Ian Williams and won on debut for him here over track and trip on June. He was decent out in the old colony and was in fact fourth in the G2. Dubai Gold Cup for his old connections at the Carnival earlier this year before the move. The 6yo should have too much for this line-up and is fancied to take this; I took a bit of the 2-1 early.
It is Newmarket at 2.55 some potentially good’uns go in the Group Two 7f bet365 Superlative Stakes. Kings Command won on debut here at Newmarket in June showing a nice attitude having shown greenness and been outpaced about a furlong out – one runner from the race ha come out since and that colt won. Will have learnt a lot that day and is fancied to win this before taking on bigger targets. I have 7-4.
At 3.10 we are off to Chester for the Listed 7f Sportpesa City Plate Stakes. Maries Diamond hasn’t won in a year but looks to have been found a great opportunity here by that old shrewdy Mark Johnston. The 3yo get all the weight allowances in this and has course form having won over 6f here as a 2yo. He has been getting run down by some decent types and this tight turning seven heavily favouring those that race to the fore should prove ideal. No-one had chalked-up at the time of writing so I will grab the best price I can when they do.
Over at Ascot they host the Group Two Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes at 4.00 over the round course. Beat The Bank continues to come up short at the very top level but is always worth a second look in this company. Accidental Agent usually goes well at Ascot but refused to race at the Royal meeting; if he fancies taking part he will make them all go. Zaaki is yet another one that old Sir Mike appears to be bringing along nicely and the gelding has improved at four winning a Listed heat over C&D on seasonal reappearance and then the G.3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom last time. At 9-4 I am on hoping there is a bit more to come again.
At 4.40 it is the race of the day back at HQ the 6f Group One Darley July Cup Stakes. Advertise has been all the rage for this since winning the G.1 Commonwealth Cup at Ascot and as a 3yo gets the handy weight-far-age allowance on the older generation. Pretty Pollyanna drops back in trip and as a 3yo filly gets all the allowances for her first try at six furlongs since September last year. Second in the G.1 Irish 1,000 Guineas she was going well until fading out of contention in the G.1 1m Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting last time. Oisin Murphy was booked to ride nice and early in the week. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Murphy turn this into a real test getting them going at a proper gallop early. At 16-1 she can be backed each-way, Paddy Power paying first four, and that is what I have done in the belief she might take a few of these out of their comfort zone and they won’t get here back. “Probably her most impressive performance came at the July meeting in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes (6f Group Two she won last year) which proves she is very effective on the track,” said trainer Michael Bell earlier this week, he continued “I think she is in very good form and I’m expecting a very good run.”
Hopefully a few winners there to pay for a beer or two whilst watching the Cricket on Sunday and also catching a bit of the F1 and Tennis as well no doubt!