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Wednesday, May 6, 2009


The £400,000 Group One Darley July Cup, the highlight of the three-day Newmarket July Festival, has attracted 69 entries from nine different countries (up from 66 in 2008) for the 2009 renewal, which takes place on the July Course on Friday, July 10.

Run over six furlongs, the Darley July Cup is one of the three British legs of the Global Sprint Challenge alongside the King’s Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Among this year’s entry are possible starters from Australia, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, South Africa and the USA, alongside the very best home-trained sprinters.

Last year’s Darley July Cup went the way of Marchand D’Or who became the latest winner of the race to be subsequently crowned European champion sprinter. The Freddie Head-trained gelding is a possible starter again alongside African Rose, trained by his sister Criquette Head-Maarek who won the July Cup in 1996 with Anabaa. African Rose is also a Group One winner, having taken the Sprint Cup at Doncaster in September.

Head-Maarek revealed today: “The Darley July Cup could be a potential race for African Rose. She will hopefully be making her seasonal reappearance over seven furlongs at Longchamp at the end of this month and we will see how she gets on there before deciding where to go with her.

“She’s won over both six and seven furlongs and she has the speed to get the lesser trip. We are starting her off over seven because I think it looks easier for her at this time of the season.

“The stiff six furlongs of the July Course will suit her well because you really have to travel up the hill. She has done very well over the winter and I have been pleased with her preparation for the coming season.

“I was delighted with her victory at Doncaster, where she stayed on well, and she’s a very game filly. She came back with a big joint from the Prix de la Foret and I think she must have walked on herself when leaving the stalls. It was nothing serious and she’s very well in herself at the moment.”

Hungarian superstar Overdose is unbeaten in a dozen outings and “won” the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp last season in impressive fashion before the race was declared void due to a false start. Contest is from the stable of Athens handler Christos Theodorakis (who also has a base in France) and was a winner in Listed company at Chantilly on April 23 while a prolific Greek winner Ialysos is now with Luca Cumani.

Globetrotting Australian superstar Takeover Target has won 21 races during his glittering career, including the 2006 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the remarkable 10-year-old appears to be in the form of his life following victories in Group One company at Randwick and Morphettville on his latest two starts. He contested the Darley July Cup in 2006, finishing seventh. The second entry from “Down Under” is Scenic Blast, twice successful in Group One company including on his latest start at Flemington on March 7.

J J The Jet Plane is a dual Group One winner in his native South Africa and hails from the all-conquering yard of Mike de Kock, while the one entry from the USA is Cannonball, trained by Wesley Ward and second on his latest start in Grade Three company at Churchill Downs on May 1. Inspiration is trained in Hong Kong by John Moore and is a dual Group One winner in the former British colony, having won the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December and the Centenary Sprint Cup at the same course in February.

Several horses who have been campaigned over longer distances have the chance of dropping back in distance for the Darley July Cup, including Paco Boy, who registered his biggest success in the Group One Prix da la Foret over seven furlongs at Longchamp last season and recently showed his well-being by taking a Group Two contest over a mile at Sandown last month.

Derek Lucie-Smith, a member of the Calvera Partnership which owns the Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old, commented: “The Darley July Cup is a possibility for Paco Boy at the moment, although we are focusing on the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury (May 16) at the moment. We will see how he gets on there before deciding whether to stick with him over a mile.

“We actually consider him to be better over seven furlongs as opposed to a mile and we would consider running him over a stiff six furlongs. The July Course would suit that option well, particularly if there was some ease in the ground.

“We thought he won the Sandown Mile in good style, especially as he was the first horse to win the race under a penalty since 1993. It took him about 10 days to get over his Dubai trip - he had a bit of a rough time over there and coming back - so we gave him the run at Sandown.

“He wasn’t 100% on that occasion, but he wasn’t far off. It was more a question of giving the owners a confidence booster rather than the horse!”

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has four entries to choose from including stanjames.com 1000 Guineas fourth Heart Shaped and Mastercraftsman, who took fifth place in Saturday’s stanjames.com 2000 Guineas. The stanjames.com 2000 Guineas runner-up Delegator, trained by Brian Meehan, is also entered.

Last year’s third War Artist is a possible starter again while the Darley July Cup is also a possible target for last year’s Golden Jubilee Stakes victor Kingsgate Native, who has returned to training for owners Cheveley Park Stud with Sir Michael Stoute after proving unsuitable as a stallion. The Newmarket-based breeding operation also has the race as an option for Evasive, who finished sixth in the stanjames.com 2000 Guineas.

Hughie Morrison sent out Sakhee’s Secret to success in 2007 and has entered that horse’s half-brother, Palace Moon, this time around. The four-year-old is still some way off showing the form Sakhee’s Secret displayed but was an impressive winner at Doncaster in March.



Lingfield Park plays host to a fantastic seven-race card this Saturday, May 9, with the Group Three totesport.com Derby Trial (3.15pm) taking centre stage. Run over an extended 11 furlongs at a course not dissimilar to Epsom, the £65,000 contest often proves an informative pointer to the Derby itself with the likes of High-Rise (1998), Kahyasi (1988), Slip Anchor (1985) and Teenoso (1983) all having completed the Lingfield/Epsom double.

Among the 15 entries for this year’s Lingfield Park contest is Alwaary, trained by John Gosden and owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, who enjoyed Classic success at Newmarket on Sunday with Ghanaati in the 1,000 Guineas.

The three-year-old Dynaformer colt finished a good third on his debut behind leading Derby hope Crowded House at Kempton in September before registering a comfortable victory at Yarmouth later in the same month.

Angus Gold, racing manager to Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “At the moment, the intention is to let Alwaary take his chance in the totesport.com Derby Trial. We have to start his season off somewhere and we have always thought of him as a horse with potential.

“He won his Yarmouth maiden in good style but he suffered a bit of a minor hold-up afterwards, which prevented him from running again last season. John has been happy enough with his work this year and we need to get Alwaary onto a racecourse to find a bit more about him.

“John thinks that he will stay the trip on Saturday and I don’t think the forecast good to firm ground will be too much of a problem for him. The Derby is a long way away and we will just take it one step at a time at the moment.”

Aidan O’Brien captured this contest last year with Alessandro Volta and has three possible starters on Saturday in Age Of Aquarius, Francisco Goya and Masterofthehorse, while Henry Cecil could be represented by Father Time. Godolphin has made an entry for Mastery, who finished fourth at Kempton in the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes in March.

Fillies also have the chance to go on trial for Epsom in £50,000 Listed totesportcasino.com Oaks Trial (2.40pm), also run over an extended 11 furlongs.

No less than 10 of the 14 entries also hold entries for the Epsom Classic including High Heeled from the in-form Barry Hills yard who made a most pleasing seasonal reappearance at Newbury on April 17, when she got the better of several the colts in a 10-furlong conditions race.

Last year’s Oaks heroine Look Here finished second at Lingfield prior to her famous Epsom success and her trainer Ralph Beckett has made an entry this year for Anice Stellato, who won on her only start last season in a maiden at Newmarket in August. Godolphin could be represented by Copperbeech, a dual winner in France last year who was also third in Group One company. With several of the other entries coming into the race on the back of victories in maiden company, it is sure to provide several pointers for the future.

Saturday’s programme also features the £65,000 Group Three totesportbingo.com Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes (3.45pm), a seven-furlong contest for fillies aged three and over. The 15 entries include Chantilly Tiffany, a Group Three winner in Germany last season for Ed Dunlop, while there are two entries from France, last year’s runner-up Verba from the Richard Gibson stable and Chasing Stars, trained by Criquette Head-Maarek and a Listed winner at Saint-Cloud in November.

There is one Irish contender, San Sicharia, from the Joanna Morgan stable and placed in Group Three company at York last season.

The programme gets underway at 2.10pm with the totesportgames.com Conditions Stakes (2.10pm) and concludes at 5.25pm with the Teenoso Ladies Handicap (5.25pm).

Always one of the most popular days at Lingfield Park, the gates will be opening earlier than usual at 11.30am.



A total of 40 entries have been received for the £75,000 Investec ‘Dash’, run over the fastest five furlongs in the world at Epsom Downs on Investec Derby Day, Saturday, June 6, 2009.

Trainer Chris Wall is aiming his talented sprinter Fathom Five at the famous heritage handicap after the five-year-old recorded a comfortable victory on his first start for the Newmarket handler in the competitive Blue Square Handicap, run over the same course and distance at the Spring Meeting on April 22.

The son of Fath was previously trained by Bryan Smart, for whom he was successful on four occasions over the minimum trip. He was also beaten by under two lengths in last year’s Investec ‘Dash’, when sixth behind Holbeck Ghyll.

Wall said: “We will definitely give the Investec ‘Dash’ serious consideration. We are restricted in his programme to a certain extent because he needs a little bit of cut in the ground.

“The going at Epsom on Derby Day is usually perfect racing ground and, if that is the case, then I would certainly want to target him at the race.

“His victory at the Spring Meeting was in a fast time and he stretched out well, winning the race quite well. But the Investec ‘Dash’ is one of the most competitive sprint handicaps in the calender and he will have to improve on the sixth he recorded in the race last year.

“He has a bit of a history of sweating up at the start but he went down with the others in the Blue Square Handicap and seemed fine. There will be more of an atmosphere on Derby Day but he has settled in well at Newmarket since his arrival in January.

“He copes well with the hustle and bustle of the Heath, so I would be hopeful that he can relax when he gets to a racecourse again.

“He could race at York next week, which will also be ground dependent, but he is in good shape at the moment and hopefully he can return to Epsom on Derby Day.”

Fathom Five looks set to take on some strong opposition in the Investec ‘Dash’, including Godolphin’s Dandy Man, who has made the frame in the last two renewals of the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Holbeck Ghyll, who took the race last year for Andrew Balding.

Yorkshire trainer David Nicholls has entered eight horses as he seeks a fifth triumph in the Investec ‘Dash’, including Sonny Red, who was twice placed in Group company for previous trainer Richard Hannon, and Peace Offering, who landed a Listed sprint at Newmarket in October.

The handler may also be represented by Strike Up The Band and Tournedos, who both finished behind Hollbeck Ghyll at Epsom Downs last year, Northern Dare, Fol Hollow, Indian Trail, and recent Thirsk scorer Mandurah.

Kevin Ryan, who is also based in North Yorkshire, could send down a strong raiding party, with the 2006 Prix de l’Abbaye scorer Desert Lord and Group Two winner Wi Dud among his three entries.

A brace of Irish entries includes An Tadh, from the stable of Ger Lyons, and the Liam McAteer-trained Croisultan, who was second in a Listed contest at Naas on his latest appearance.

Other notable entries include the ultra-consistent Siren’s Gift, French Group Three victor Starlit Sands, prolific scorer High Standing and last year’s runner-up Merlin’s Dancer, who is trained at Epsom by Simon Dow.

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