Barely have we recovered from the thrills of Royal Ascot then we have another three days of potentially compelling flat racing ahead of us as the spotlight reverts to Newmarket racecourse for the much-anticipated Piper-Heidsiek July Festival.
The enduring images of Frankel, So You Think, Colour Vision and, of course, Black Caviar, whose half-witted jockey almost cost her a place in racing immortality, linger, but what will this week’s action throw up.
The thing I like about British racing at the moment is that it’s getting more and more international and this time around all eyes will be on another Australian sprinter who will attempt to stamp her class on the big stage when she runs in the Group 1 Darley July Cup, the highlight of the midsummer meeting.
After a stunning performance at Meydan on World Cup night Ortensia fluffed her lines at Royal Ascot when she could only finish ninth in the King’s Stand Stakes. This is her attempt to seek redemption and follow in the flourishing assembly line of Australian speedsters, who have travelled half way round the world to plunder British racing’s sprinting riches. Did we ever think that Choisir’s victory in 2003 would open the floodgates for Australian connections to dare to travel beyond the Far East and Dubai to England and France.
The July Cup looks like being the sprint race of the summer with A-level speedballs like Bated Breat, Society Rock, Strong Suit, Power, Dandy Boy, Hoof It, Sepoy, Libranno, Fire Lilly, Krypton Factor… I could go on, set to face the starter for the 1,200-metre contest which, if my memory serves me well, was won by Khalifa Bin Dasmal’s Dream Ahead.
Well that’s the big race on Saturday, but the July Meeting kicks-off on Thursday with another attractive Group 2 contest in the form of the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, the highlight of Ladies Day, which has been won on four occasions in recent years by horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute. Godolphin look to have a strong contender in Modun, who interestingly won on the Polytrack at Kempton Park last season when previously trained by Stoute.
Standing between him and victory is Red Cadeaux, last year’s Melbourne Cup second who have been in rousing form this season with a win in the Yorkshire Cup, a second place in the Coronation Cup and a third in the Hardwicke at Ascot.
Last year’s Epsom Derby runner-up and Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach lurks together with the Mikel Delzangles-trained Vadamar, who was third in a Group 1 contest at San Siro, Italy, last time out.
In addition, Thursday’s action includes the July Stakes, a race that has been won by Richard Hannon four times in the past and most recently with Libranno in 2010.
Friday is Abu Dhabi Day, which features the Group 1 Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes, always a competitive mile which attracts big fields. This year’s renewal is no exception with 21 standing their ground, among them several fillies from the Classic generations who will take on their elders at the top level.