Jack Nice, a specialist in form analysis and currently working at Ralph Beckett’s Group One winning stable, gives us his insider's view on the week of racing at Newmarket for the July Festival: who to back, who to follow and where to go! There is no better man to guide us through the week than Jack and he starts by telling us who he fancies in one of the first big races of the week.
The Bahrain Trophy
I am looking forward to seeing Atty Persse step up to Group company in the Bahrain Trophy on Thursday, and he is a worthy favourite at 3-1. The race is usually won by a horse that has ran well at Royal Ascot, a trend that he fits after winning the King George V Handicap, but I think the value in the race lies with Wolf Country.
He was impressive when winning a 12f Listed race at Saint-Cloud in May, before a gallant effort in the Dante where the front five pulled clear. The winner, Permian, has gone on to win the G2 King Edward VII at Royal Ascot, beating the Dante third, Crystal Ocean, into third again. The second, Benbatl, won the G3 Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Rekindling, the fourth, has won the G2 Curragh Cup. Wolf Country should enjoy the step back up in trip judging on his Listed win in France, and providing he handles the likely quicker ground he should run well at around 7-1. I would be waiting until post-declarations to see if he definitely runs before having a bet. If not, it is hard to see past Atty Persse.
Princess Of Wales's Stakes
I am also looking forward to seeing Frontiersman, who runs in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes on Thursday. He has improved massively this season, resulting in a second last time to the mightily tough Highland Reel. He has since won the G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, beating the subsequent Eclipse winner Ulysses and G3 winner Johannes Vermeer, who re-opposes here. Frontiersman came from a very uncompromising position that day, and ran as though he didn't handle the camber at Epsom. He has been impressive when winning both his previous visits to Newmarket, albeit on the Rowley Mile, and should take a good deal of beating here.
The Falmouth Stakes
The Falmouth looks slightly weaker than previous years, and Roly Poly is definitely the right favourite on account of her last two second place finishes behind the three-time G1 winning filly Winter. Arabian Hope did well to get past the tough Golden Stunner at York Last time, and has earnt her chance at this level. That form has already taken a boost with Spark Plug winning a Listed race at Sandown. Although she is up in grade here, she is back against her own sex and could outrun her odds.
The Superlative Stakes
The Superlative Stakes on Saturday looks an open affair, but I was very impressed with the debut of Richard Fahey’s Great Prospector. A scopey son of Elzaam, he was held up towards the rear and travelled powerfully before passing the whole field down the stands rail to win easily. There are mixed messages to the form of the race, but the fourth and seventh have won since. Providing he handles the undulations at Newmarket, he can hopefully run a big race.
The July Cup
The July Cup revolves around Caravaggio, and rightly so. He was hugely impressive at Ascot in The Commonwealth Cup, and the stiffer track here at Newmarket looks likely to be ideal for him. This will be the first time that he has tackled older horses and although in receipt of 6lbs it is still a tough ask. As much as he is still the most likely winner, he is priced accordingly, and I would rather take a chance on the older and more experienced Limato repeating his impressive win in the race last year.
Renault Sport Trophy Handicap
The closing race of the festival is a competitive 12f 3yo+ 0-90 Handicap. Here And Now is a brilliantly tough and uncomplicated horse with a classy pedigree, being by Dansilli out of Oaks winner Look Here. The form of his last race at Chester could not have worked out better with the second third and fourth all winning since. He is not guaranteed to run there as he has a few options, but he is one to keep on side for the rest of the season.
Hot Jockey & Trainer
In terms of a jockey and trainer combo to follow, I would stick with Charlie Appleby and William Buick, who both have a great strike rate at the course and have some good ammo to go to war with. Mark Johnston would be another trainer I would have onside, for the same reasons.
Newmarket & July Course Tips
I would advise anyone going to the July Course for the first time to make sure that they head to the pre-parade ring. Sheltered by tall trees and away from the hustle and bustle of a usual raceday, it is a calm envionment to see the horses up-close before the race. There are always a few well-known paddock judges on hand to offer advice!
There are a big list of traditional resturants to head to after racing; The Packhorse Inn, The Pantry, The Tackroom, The Old Plough and The King’s Head. For a Chinese - The Fountain, Indian - Montaz and a Thai - Khobkhun, which is very good fun.