The July Festival at Newmarket begins tomorrow and with all of the furore and squabbling that has been triggered as a result of that article on the whip in The Racing Post, it’ll be good for racing to just get back to focusing on the actual racing. It doesn’t have the pomp and glamour of Royal Ascot or quite the level of prestige of some other high profile meetings, but it is still a few days of real quality racing for us to get in to.
For what it’s worth, which is very little, my opinion on the Tom Kerr article is that any kind of useful content within the article was completely lost by an unhelpful and overly inflammatory headline. There may have been some constructive criticism in the article but few saw past such an aggressive headline. However, the reaction certainly hasn’t helped the matter, with the extreme shock and outrage of some overly sensitive individuals being a little over the top and giving the article more attention than if they’d just ignored it.
Not being an expert, I’ll accept the view that the whip is needed as people far more qualified than me say, however, I do feel that there needs to be greater penalties in place for breaking the respective rules. The changes that were made a few years back seems to have improved use of the whip but it could be improved further still. It could be a bit extreme but disqualification for over-use of the whip could be a good place to start, mainly for the simple fact that it seems very unfair that a horse can win by the narrowest distance with its jockey breaking the rules while the beaten horse’s jockey has kept within the rules. Yes, I know there are often subsequent bans for such instances but is that really enough of a penalty; are jockeys that bothered about potentially missing a short period of racing when there is a high profile or Group One victory in front of them? Of course there would need to be flexibility in the rules and some room for manoeuvre but surely preventing rule breaking would be a good thing.
Anyway, like I say, probably best to leave it to the experts in the industry itself to sort out the squabbles and focus on the racing itself.
1:50 Bahrain Trophy Stakes (Group 3) 1m5f
Atty Perse looks a worthy favourite having been so impressive at Royal Ascot and with the Frankel’s looking like they have bags of stamina, he could continue his progression and potentially be a Group One horse in the making. However, I am going to stick with a horse I have backed the last few times and go with WISCONSIN. He is impeccably bred and looked promising on his first two starts before throwing away any chance at Royal Ascot when pulling all over the place and then again running keenly in The Curragh Cup. In some respects he still ran well in those races despite his best efforts to spoil any chance, so if they can just get him to settle he could be much better than we’ve seen. That is of course a big if.
2:25 Arqana July Stakes (Group 2) 6f
We have another impressive Royal Ascot winner in Rajasinghe reappearing at Newmarket; he was a welcome winner for a smaller stable and with the way that race fell the win was more impressive than the bare result suggests. However, I am going with another Royal Ascot winner in SOUND AND SILENCE. It might just be the fact we tipped him at 20/1 but he won the Norfolk Stakes well over five furlongs, finding more in the final stages which suggests the step-up to 6f will suit, whilst the fact that he won so well despite racing up the middle of course, which was difficult all week, makes his manner of victory even more impressive. There are plenty of dangers in the race with it having a very open look to it.
3:00 Bet365 Handicap (Class 2) 6f
A super competitive handicap in which you could realistically make a case for at least half of the field. I think it will pay to side with horses who race prominently, as can be the case at the course, so with that in mind and looking for a little value I’m siding with EKHTIYAAR. He showed a good level of form on his first four starts, on differing ground types, before disappointing last time out. That was, however, the first time he had raced towards the rear and a return to prominent tactics could see him run a big race at a decent price.
3:35 Princess of Wales’s Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f
Frontiersman has started to deliver on the promise of his brilliant pedigree and could conceivably turn out to be a Group One horse, however, he looks a little short in the betting to me with a number of other promising rivals lining-up. We saw in The Eclipse at the weekend the exceptional work Sir Michael Stoute does in improving horses from three to four and there is another of his here who could follow that route. POET’S WORD showed a good level of form at three but has clearly progressed this year with a win at Chelmsford and a good second behind the battle hardened Deauville at Chester. The form of that and prospect of further progression gives him a strong chance here and at the prices looks the value bet.
4:05 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Class 2) 6f
I have no real view on this race but with a 41% strike rate with two year olds on turf this year it may pay to follow the Charlie Appleby contender SPRING COSMOS.
4:35 John Deere Handicap (Class 2) 5f
Again, I have no real view on this race but as a winner over course and distance at the meeting last year off a mark 9lb’s higher, MONSIEUR JOE could be the value bet. He’ll need to return to form but conditions and his style of racing should suit, so at 14/1 is worth a punt.
5:05 Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (Listed) 1m
RONALD R was a good second in the Brittania Stakes and can take the step-up to listed level to win here. He was perhaps a little unlucky to be beaten at Ascot given he was caught for room at a key stage but the front three were well clear of the rest and he looks progressive.
1:50 WISONSIN @ 9/1 (Paddy Power)
2:25 SOUND AND SILENCE @ 15/2 (BetVictor, Paddy Power, Betfair)
3:00 EKHTIYAAR @ 11/1 (Bet365)
3:35 POET’S WORD @ 9/2 (Coral)
4:05 SPRING COSMOS @ 4/1 (SkyBet)
4:35 MONSIEUR JOE – e/w @ 14/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
5:05 RONALD R @ 3/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair)