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2017 Darley July Cup tips – Clipper winner to improve again at Newmarket

Jonathan Vine 14 Jul 2017
Harry Bentley riding Limato (centre, green and black w. white cap) to victory in the Darley July Cup at last year's Festival.

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for the final Group 1 at Newmarket’s July Festival and provides readers with his expert tips on Saturday 15th July.

Following the conclusion of Royal Ascot, horse racing fans quickly turn their attention to Newmarket’s annual July Festival. Whilst there are several exciting contests to behold during the three-day meeting, the most anticipated race of the week is always the Darley July Cup.

For over 140 years the best sprinters in the business have taken their place in the Newmarket stalls and battled it out over six furlongs to claim the fabled July Cup. This historic contest also provides horse racing enthusiasts with their first opportunity to see some of the current crop of three-year-old stars pit their wits against older, more established sprint kings.

Caravaggio (11/10 Ladbrokes) extended his unbeaten career record at Royal Ascot last month, claiming an excellent victory in the Commonwealth Cup. Seconds before the gates flung open, Ryan Moore will have been shocked to feel his mount uncharacteristically rear up in the stalls and whilst they made a clean break, he gave away considerable ground to his rivals early on in the race. With two furlongs to go, Harry Angel (6/1 bet365) and Blue Point pushed for home, but once Caravaggio got rolling, he pulled upsides the leaders and powered past the post to win in excellent style.

Harry Angel was making his first start supporting the royal blue of Godolphin. Sheik Mohammed moved quickly to snap up Clive Cox’s star sprinter, following a superb triumph in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes. He and Blue Point really served it up to Caravaggio at Ascot, pushing Aidan O’Brien dominant charge like no other horse has managed to date. There was no disgrace in his three-quarter length defeat and is sure to be backed by many punters when he arrives at Newmarket this weekend.

Aidan O’Brien will also send Intelligence Cross (66/1 Ladbrokes) over to Newmarket, following his ten length defeat to Caravaggio and Harry Angel in the Commonwealth Cup. Padraig Beggy's mount has been disappointing this season and his presence seems merely to keep Caravaggio company.

The big sprint of Royal Ascot week is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day and this year we were treated to a thrilling renewal. Limato (5/1 William Hill), who came to Newmarket’s July Festival last season and won the Darley July Cup, went to post as the favourite to claim Royal Ascot glory. Despite enduring a fairly disappointing eleven months, he was tipped by many experts to get the job done, but Henry Candy’s stable star could only manage third, as The Tin Man (6/1 BetVictor) beat Tasleet (9/1 BetVictor) to that historic title.

James Fanshawe’s five-year-old established himself as a star in the sprinting division last season, claiming the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes title at Newbury before winning the Champion Sprint on Champions’ Day at Ascot in October. He squared off against the rapidly improving Tasleet on his first start of the season in the Clipper Stakes and ran a decent race to come home fifth, giving away a stack of weight to his rivals at the head of the field.

Tasleet was a 14/1 shot to take that Group 2 title, having finished a narrow second to Home Of The Brave on his reappearance in a Listed race at Leicester. Jim Crowley gave his mount a confident ride at York and the pair stormed to a maiden Group 2 victory in emphatic fashion, beating Magical Memory by over two lengths.

All three look set to renew their rivalry in this years’ Darley July Cup and, given they crossed the Royal Ascot line in such close proximity to each other, it’s hard to say who will come out on top at Newmarket.

The Tin Man (near, left), Limato (near, centre) and Tasleet (near, right) battling for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes crown at Royal Ascot.

There is a considerable gap in the betting once you scroll past fifth favourite Tasleet, but looking at some of the names further down the betting, there isn't much each-way value to be found.

Growl (40/1 BetVictor) looked like a progressive sort during the second half of last season, finishing a length behind The Tin Man in the Champions Sprint at Ascot before winning the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster. He hasn't shown anything like that form this year and his failure to even start the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, unseating Paul Hanagan in the stalls, pretty much sums up his season.

Richard Fahey stepped Mr Lupton (66/1 William Hill) up to Listed races after beginning his four-year-old campaign with a strong second and a victory. He's struggled outside handicap and is likely to be thoroughly outclassed in this Group 1.

Brando (20/1 Ladbrokes) finished third in the Champion Sprint at Ascot, crossing the line just a length behind The Tin Man and after claiming the Group 3 Abernant Stakes title on his reappearance, he went to post as the favourite to win the Clipper. Tom Eaves kept looking down at his mount’s hind legs as he slipped tamely back through the field at York, eventually crossing the line last. Kevin Ryan has given his four-year-old plenty of time to prepare for this race and if he has returned to the top of his form, he’s more than capable of troubling the market leaders.

It was fantastic to see all five leading players remain in the entries after the final stage of declarations and this year's renewal of the Darley July Cup could be one of the most memorable in this race's storied history.

Caravaggio is a machine, a superstar and will be the most in-demand Sire in the world when he eventually goes to stud. However, given his short price and the quality behind him in the betting, it could pay to swerve the favourite on this occasion.

You may never get a better opportunity to bet on Limato at such a lengthy price, The Tin Man is clearly a sprinter of the highest calibre and Harry Angel is a three-year-old with bags of potential. All three make strong cases for selection, but I'm convinced that TASLEET is the best bet in this year’s Darley July Cup.

William Haggas can count his charge a little unlucky at Royal Ascot. He was attacking The Tin Man on the outside of Limato, but as the line approached, Tasleet and Limato came together and that slight bump was enough to halt the momentum he had built up over the final few furlongs. 

The four-year-old has proven himself to be a Grouped level sprinter over the past few years, claiming major titles at Chelmsford and earlier in the season at York. Any ease in the ground will play right into his hands and if can continue the improvement he’s displayed in recent outings, Hamdan Al Maktoum will be confident Tasleet can land him a record-breaking sixth triumph in the Darley July Cup.

15/7/2017 4:35pm Newmarket Darley July Cup selection – TASLEET each-way (9/1 BetVictor)

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2017 Darley July Cup tips – Clipper winner to improve again at Newmarket

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for the final Group 1 at Newmarket’s July Festival and provides readers with his expert tips on Saturday 15th July.

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