Newmarket’s three-day meeting starts on Thursday with the centre-piece the July Cup run on Saturday.
But it’s absolutely crazy how congested racing is this Saturday with Chester, Ascot , Newmarket and York all clashing. The July Cup and John Smith’s Cup at York are only 20 minutes apart. Another case of UK racing putting all it’s eggs into one basket.
Why all these races are run on Saturday and none on Sunday is absolutely absurd.
This has been a problem since Newmarket’s July Meeting was switched from a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday slot to try and grow the TV audience but York’s fixture also stayed rooted to the Saturday slot because Channel 4 would not cover racing if it moved to a Sunday.
Channel 4 already suffer by covering racing on week days and to be frank I doubt if Channel 4 racing would still even be on the air without the advertising it gets from the bookmaking industry.
We’ve been promised a review for years but there’s nothing going to happen in the short-term to prevent Saturday’s snarl up.
Anyway, the first four races from HQ are on Channel 4 on Thursday so let’s hopefully start the meeting with a bang!
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A race that often throws up plenty of clues for the St Leger at Doncaster in September my pick is John Gosden’s MR SINGH who the trainer has described as his “prime St Leger candidate”. I can see him running a big race here and then been put away until the final Classic of the season as Gosden did with Masked Marvel in 2011.
Mr Singh ran a great race when second at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 King Edward VII and this looks very winnable for him.
The two-year-old sprinters are out again and I am sticking with ELTEZAM who ran a cracker in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. There does not look the same strength in this race, with neither Air Force Blue or the impressive winner Buratino present. I fancy him to build on that and progress again here in a race where Paddy’s going Money back as a free bet on the 2nd & 3rd placed runners.
A few have got questions to answer and I find it hard to look past the front two in the betting. The progressive Mahsoob won well at Ascot last month and steps up to 1m 4f on his debut at HQ. However I like GOSPEL CHOIR who has won over course and distance here. Conditions will be perfect for him and I fancy him to come out on top.
A wide-open handicap and MYTHICAL CITY offers some each-way value. Mark Johnston’s filly has flourished in handicap company this season and risen from a lowly mark of 66 up to 83. She showed what a battler she is in her latest run at Chester when staying on well to win. I love that attitude and she can continue to improve.
Looking forward to the congested weekend and particularly the big two races on Saturday.
John Smith’s Cup, York, Saturday 3.25pm
The John Smith’s Cup is a competitive affair as always and I am going for another Mark Johnston horse in FIRE FIGHTING who has looked ready to win one of these big handicaps this season. He won well at Redcar in May and has gone close at Goodwood and Epsom since then. I can see him running a big race, being delivered late by Paul Mulrennan.
July Cup, Newmarket, Saturday 3.45pm
There is only one horse for me in the July Cup and that is Aussie speedster Brazen Beau who I put up for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. He was unlucky to be edged out of it in the final few yards. Jockey James Doyle seems confident after riding him for a workout and all the signs are that he is in terrific shape for the race. I feel he will put it up to his main rival in the market Muhaarar. Of the others I really liked Anthem Alexander’s run in the Commonwealth Cup and she would be my each-way alternative.
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