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2017 Newmarket July Festival preview – A guide to Newmarket’s three day summer meeting

Jonathan Vine 11 Jul 2017
A view from last year's July Festival at Newmarket.

We take a look at the Newmarket July Festival and pick out the key races and horses to watch out for when the meeting begins on Thursday 13th July.

The Epsom Derby Festival and the Royal meeting at Ascot bring a unique blend of history and glamour to the sport in the month of June. As we roll into July, all thoughts in the horse racing world turn to Newmarket as their July course hosts it’s famous July Festival.

The Rowley Mile may be the more celebrated of the two tracks at Newmarket, but once the excitement of the Guineas Festival has come and gone, the July course picks up the mantel in thrilling fashion and we look set for a fantastic three days of racing this week. The two Group 1 contests are sure to hog the headlines during the Festival, but racegoers will be treated eight Grouped and Listed races for males, females and juveniles, along with several thrilling handicaps.

Thursday’s card gets off to a flying start with the Bahrain Cup, where we will get to see several possible St Leger horses do battle for the first time. Atty Persse was hugely impressive at Royal Ascot, making light of an unfavourably wide draw to seal the King George V Stakes title with a commanding display. Brian Meehan's Raheen House ran a storming race at Royal Ascot and he looks to be the biggest danger to the favourite. John Gosden will also be hopeful Derby runner, Crowned Eagle will give the favourite a good run for his money.

Two more Royal Ascot champions look set to clash in the Arqana July Stakes, with surprise Coventry Stakes winner, Rajasinghe and Windsor Castle champion, Sound And Silence likely to head the betting in this Group 2 juvenile sprint. The third prestigious Group 2 on Thursday’s festival opening card is the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes, where Godolphin duo Hawkbill and Frontiersman will have to deal with the unpredictable Western Hymn, the progressive Poet’s Word and Frankie Dettori’s mount, Wings Of Desire.

Friday’s feast of flat racing is headlined by the opening Group 1 of the meeting, Falmouth Stakes. Charlie Appleby’s highly-rated filly, Wuheida could be set for her first start of the season. She will face stiff competition from Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly, French Guineas runner-up Sea Of Grace, Ganton Stakes winner Arabian Hope and German Guineas champion Unforgetable Filly, in what is shaping up to be a thoroughly intriguing showdown.

The Tin Man (left) beating Tasleet (right) and Limato (centre, green w. white cap) in a thrilling renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Punters can sink their teeth into several large field handicaps on the second day of festivities at Newmarket, with the bet365 Handicap shaping up to be one of the most competitive contests of the week. Aidan O’Brien’s Clemmie, who is a full sister to Churchill, is likely to be the hot favourite in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, before the highly-regarded Zwayyan bids to defy top weight and take victory in the Chelsea Waterfront Handicap at the end of the evening.

The third and final day of racing at Newmarket features several outstanding contests. Former Newmarket winners Parfait, Gunmetal, Heavens Guest and Tashweeq will do battle with consistent handicapper Steady Pace and Kevin Ryan’s Flaming Spear in the Bunbury Cup, before the capacity crowd are treated to a thrilling renewal of the Superlative Stakes, as Zaman, Nego and Aqabah attempt to deny Aidan O’Brien’s firm favourite, Gustav Klimt.

The final big race of the meeting is also the most prestigious, the July Cup Sprint Stakes and, judging by the current list of ante-post entrants, this could be one of the most memorable renewals in the race’s 140-year history.

Caravaggio extended his unbeaten career record into six successive races at Royal Ascot, where Aidan O’Brien’s star three-year-old recovered from a slow start to claim a stunning victory in the Commonwealth Cup. Harry Angel is likely to renew rivalries with the short-priced favourite, after being beaten into second at Ascot.

Ulysses struck a blow for the older horses in the Coral-Eclipse last weekend, giving the likes of Brando, Growl and the highly-rated Limato hope that they can upstage their younger rivals. Henry Candy’s star sprinter had to settle for third at Royal Ascot, as The Tin Man held off Tasleet to claim Diamond Jubilee Stakes glory. All three will line up against Caravaggio and Harry Angel at Newmarket on Saturday afternoon, in what is likely to be the highlight of this year’s July Festival.

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2017 Newmarket July Festival preview – A guide to Newmarket’s three day summer meeting

We take a look at the Newmarket July Festival and pick out the key races and horses to watch out for when the meeting begins on Thursday 13th July.

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