The Boodles July Festival gets underway on Thursday, Ladies Day, with a seven race card including three Group races and a Listed heat. It’s a cracking meeting on the July Course and as I have said before this track is one of my favourite places to be in the summer. They are due some thundery showers on Wednesday and there is a fair chance of rain at some point on all three days of the meeting so make sure to keep an eye on the going description as it’s unlikely to remain good-firm as it was earlier in the week.
The July Festival has proven a happy hunting ground for Godolphin down the years and they appear to have another strong squad lined up for the meeting. The lads from Ballydoyle have a few entered, though perhaps not the strongest raiding party ever, and one of their best hopes Little Big Bear is rated only 50/50 to show-up for the July Cup. Team Gosden have a select band of entries, Andrew Balding has a few in with chances, William Haggas has a few handicappers worth a second look likely to run and Sir Michael Stoute has a couple of notable entries too. It should be a great three days of racing.
Best bets for the horse racing at Newmarket Thursday
The meeting gets underway at 1.50 with the Group Three 1m5f Bahrain Trophy Stakes. Second in the G.2 1m6f Queen's Vase at the Royal Meeting, behind the now St Leger favourite Gregory, Saint George has to be taken seriously off that bit of form; won over 1m6f at Doncaster prior to that. Tower Of London won the 1m5f Ulster Derby last time looking to love every yard of the trip and it is noted he has a number of Cup entries against his name later in the season as well as being second in the betting, at the moment, for the St Leger. He hasn’t exactly beaten a lot yet and I think if trained by anyone else wouldn’t be jolly for the race. Castle Way won the Future Stayers Nursery at HQ last back end and returned to the Rowley Mile on his seasonal debut when taking the Listed 1m2f Newmarket Stakes in May. This is a significant step-up in trip though and on breeding you have to wonder if it will suit. That said I noted Charlie Appleby saying earlier this week “We purposely missed Royal Ascot with Castle Way to wait for this race and are hoping that the step up in trip will see further improvement, which should open up a few doors. He is in great form at home and brings a nice profile into the race.” I have gone round and round with this race and ultimately have come down on the side of Castle Way at 9-2 in what could be a very informative race for the final Classic of the season.
The Group Two 6f Bahrain Turf Club July Stakes at 2.25 is a wide-open affair with some potentially top-calls two-year-olds lining-up but of course not a lot of form to go on. If they get a real downpour soft going will be a complete unknown for all of them as well just to add to the puzzle. Malc won on debut and was second in the G.2 Norfolk at the Royal Meeting so clearly has some talent but the far side group in the Norfolk clearly had an advantage, six of the first seven home raced that side, so it may pay to take that form with a pinch of salt; Thunder Blue was fifth. Purosangue made every yard to win over five at Haydock on debut and though nothing much has come out of the race he certainly looked the part. Mountain Bear never really got involved on his debut at the Curragh over six-furlongs at the start of June but went back there at the end of the month to win over the six looking to have learnt a lot from his first run. Chief Mankato won a 6f maiden at Windsor on his debut back in May which is working out well, third and fourth have won since and the second was third in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot. The yard is in fair form and the booking of William Buick has to be seen as a positive. He crossed the line with his ears pricked down on the banks of the Thames and I wonder if the race may be run to suit. There are a few in here that appear to want to front run and I think the Charlie Hills trained son of Sioux Nation can stalk them early before swooping late. I have the 5-1.
Race of the day is the Group Two 1m4f Princess Of Wales's Stakes at 3.35. Charlie Appleby had four of the six still in as of Monday, including Rebels Romance and Kemari, but with those two not here we are down to a rather disappointing four runners. Adayar has been odds-on all week stepping back up in trip having been third in the G.1 1m2f Prince Of Wales's Stakes at the Royal Meeting. Adayar has not run over 1m4f since finishing fourth in the 2021 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe but I feel this is his best trip and this looks a fairly straightforward task to my eyes for the five-year-old. It’s no surprise he is priced accordingly at 4-9 and I can't back him at the price. Global Storm carries a penalty of 3lb for his G.2 Dubai City Of Gold win at the Carnival earlier this year making the task even harder for the six-year-old. Israr may well find himself running for second place again whilst Grand Alliance appears to be here for some prize money and a day out as I can’t see that one winning. Talking on the Godolphin website Charlie Appleby said “Adayar has come out of Royal Ascot well and the plan is that this will hopefully be a springboard onto the King George. He is in great order and we are looking forward to getting him back over a mile and a half, a trip that has produced his two biggest victories. Global Storm is a solid campaigner and his run behind Hurricane Lane looks strong, with the third West Wind Blows subsequently boosting the form. He is lining up on his own merits and ran well in this race last year.”
The Listed Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes over a mile is due off at 4.45 and this may turn out to be a very good race with some likely improvers in here that could be racing at a higher level later in the season. Motabishir was out of his depth in the G.1 St James's Palace Stakes last time but did look handy when winning at York before that; this certainly looks more his level. Nostrum hasn’t been seen since finishing third in the G.1 Dewhurst Stakes last autumn and has to be taken very seriously if ready to go on his three-year-old seasonal debut being 5lb clear of the field on OR’s; the booking of Ryan Moore also catches the eye. “He’s in good shape and has been ready there for the past few weeks” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte in the build-up. The son of Kingman missed the 2,000 Guineas, for which he was as short as 8-1, and was also ruled out of appearing in the French and Irish equivalents. Juddmonte has just four entries over the entire meeting and the colt certainly looks like their best chance on paper if, and it's a big if, he's cherry ripe. Imperial Emperor is two from two having won on debut over the Rowley Mile last back end and returning to action at three with a victory over track and trip here on the July course in June. He has looked the type to make it up to Group level sooner rather than later and can take this before a tilt at bigger prizes later in the summer. By Dubawi out of multiple G.1 winner Zhukova he is certainly bred to be above average, there are a host of big names on the pedigree page such as Dubai Millennium, Nightime and Galileo to name but three and he hails from the same family as Ghaiyyath; full-brother First Ruler is a 100+ rated winner. Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website “Imperial Emperor missed some of the spring but we were delighted with his comeback. He has definitely come forward for that run and we are testing him in a race that looks to have plenty of strength in depth. We are confident going into the race but will be a lot wiser afterwards as to where the rest of the season lies, in terms of grade and trip.” I am on at 13-8 as I think this one might turn out to be very good and he has the fitness edge on Nostrum.Be lucky