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July Cup preview

The highlight of the Newmarket July meeting is the time-honoured July Cup, one of the premier sprint races in Europe. Good-to-firm ground, glorious summer weather, a great fiel - what more do you want? Declan Meagher, @declanmeagher76, casts an eye over the field for this G1 contest. Read more of his work on his blog.

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Darley July Cup – Tips and Preview – 3.50 Newmarket

The July Cup run over 6 furlongs at Newmarket is one of the top, if not the top sprint in Europe. Horses who have won it over the years have often gone on to be crowned leading sprinter in Europe, and with a strong field assembled there must be a good chance that tradition will be maintained this year. With the first three home from the Golden Jubilee, and the first two from the King Stand lining up, it looks like easily the best sprint of the year thus far.

Shea Shea is currently favourite and he looks the best horse in the race. The doubt, and its quite a big one, is will he prove as effective over six furlongs as he is over five? He has won over seven furlongs in South Africa but that means zilch really, he would have been far better than the horses he beat. In Meydan over 5 furlongs he traveled, and quickened really well over five furlongs, and did the same at Royal Ascot. He got beaten a neck by Sole Power at Ascot, but he hit the front on his side a furlong down, and it was hard to escape the conclusion that had he challenged on the same side of the track as the winner, he probably would have won. He has a good chance tomorrow but the worry about him being as effective over six is enough to put me off backing him.

Sole Power deserved his win at Ascot. Since winning the Nunthorpe in 2010 he has had nine attempts at the top level, and while having a few places, and a few unlucky passages among them, the King Stand was his first top level victory since. Sole Power has always needed a fast pace, on fast ground, over five furlongs, to produce his best. Indeed he has only tried six twice in his last 24 runs, and disappointed both times. His trainer feels he settles better now which will give him more chance of staying six furlongs. The problem is that while Lethal Force is in the race and he made all at Ascot, there isn’t much other pace in this, and Lethal Force could go a stride slower and still lead. If that happens Sole Power could easily pull and even if they go fast its unlikely he’ll prove as effective over six.

Lethal Force made almost all in the Golden Jubilee, defeating Society Rock by 2l. I heard some post race claims that the second was unlucky and had been given to much to do by Kieren Fallon. As is often the case with horses who come home well, punters with limited knowledge of what makes a horse achieve its fastest time, think if they had been ridden closer to the pace, or asked for their effort sooner, they’d have won. Sectionals show that Lethal Force finished out his race at near optimal pace to achieve a fast time, and while Society Rock gained about 2l in the last two furlongs, Simon Rowlands in his blog, suggested this was worth a mark up of only about 1lb over the winner. That would still leave him 1 3/4l to find, and the reality is he wasn’t closing at all the last 100 yards, and the winner was clearly the best horse on the day. Fallon actually gave Society Rock a good ride, aware the pace was on the near side, he switched his horse gradually to track it, costing him no more than a few inches in ground.

Lethal Force has been steadily progressive and if he is equally as effective at Newmarket then I’d expect him to confirm the form with Society Rock. Lethal Force may also get a softish lead in this, as apart from Hamza, who is taking a big step up in class, there isn’t really any other pace threats. Society Rock has also produced most of his best efforts at Ascot so while he ran okay when third in last years July Cup on ground he may not have liked, he was still beaten a long way, and he has to prove he can be as good and consistent here as he clearly is at Ascot.

When I looked at the betting and seen Gale Force Ten as fourth favourite, and a best price of just 13/2 for this, I thought there must be some mistake. Apparently not, although I've no idea were the price comes from. It certainly isn’t anything he’s ever done on the track. Yes he ran well in the French and Irish Guineas, but they were poor races, and while he won the Jersey at Ascot by head, that form wouldn’t be good enough to win here. He also had to battle back after being headed there, and while that’s admirable, it would lead you to believe he needed all of the seven furlongs, and isn’t likely to be as effective over six, when he’ll need to be better if he’s to win. He looks like more of a 14/1 shot to me.

Slade Power travelled well for a long way in the Golden Jubilee, but didn't really pick up when asked. He looked like five furlongs might suit him better, and again traveled smoothly when dropped to that trip for a Group 3 at The Curragh. While he won the race, he only won by 1/2l, and I was a little disappointed with him. He still has scope to improve but he’ll need to if he’s to prove he’s up to Group 1 standard, and it might be that if he is, it will be over five furlongs.

Hamza has improved throughout last year and this, but this is a big step up from a Beverley conditions race, and he won’t get his own way in front against Lethal Force either. Krypton Factor is very consistent in these top races without looking quite good enough to win one, although he did win at the top level in Meydan. He’s likely to run his race but would look more of a place bet, than a win one.

Shameexpress won over six furlongs at Flemington before running in the Kings Stand, and ran better than his ninth place finish might suggest. Isolated on the same side that Shea Shea was on he briefly challenged at the furlong pole, before fading. Maybe five might be a better trip for him, but his Australian form suggested six was fine. If that’s the case he’d have a chance here. His jockey at Ascot looked pretty ordinary too, and being replaced by a European is an advantage, it would be a much bigger advantage if that jockey wasn’t Mickael Barzalona who makes more mistakes in a race than your average 7lb claimer.

With doubts about the trip for Shea Shea and Sole Power, I think Lethal Force is the most likely winner of this. Society Rock has a chance too, but I don’t see any reason why he should reverse placings with Lethal Force who is probably still progressing. Gale Force Ten’s high position in the market is a mystery, and a place lay of him around 2.6 on Betfair would seem like a good way to take him on. Lethal Force is 9/2 with Paddy Power who will refund your losing win stake on the July Cup if you finish 2nd, and that appeals as the best bet.

Tips

2 pt win Lethal Force at 9/2 BOG with Paddy Power

4 pt Place Lay Gale Force Ten at 2.6 on Betfair

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