Ante-Post Value – The July Cup
It’s over a couple of weeks until the July Cup but there aren’t many suitable Ante-Post events for us to look at so it’ll have to do for the moment! The race itself is a Group 1 over 6-furlongs on the July course at Newmarket and has been won by the likes of Oasis Dream, Starspangledbanner and, most recently, Clive Cox’s Lethal Force.
Slade Power finds himself at the top of yet another Group 1 sprint following his 1.5-length success in the Diamond Jubilee (6f) at Royal Ascot last week and that’s not a surprise. Eddie Lynam’s 5yo is clearly the one to beat on the back of that effort and is in the form of his life, so cannot be ruled out easily. However, it’s about value for me (most of the time!) and 3/1 is on the tight side.
Aidan O’Brien’s 3yo Due Diligence was my ante-post selection in the Diamond Jubilee and ran the race of his life to finish second to Slade Power. As far as I am concerned, that confirms the son of War Front to be a genuine top-level sprinter and he’ll learn from the experience and benefit for it as well. The July course could be more to his liking than Ascot as well, for all that it might just be a small help in the grand scheme of things, and I’d say he can overturn that form with Slade Power.
However, the colt is a general 9/2 shot this time around (versus 20’s when I tipped him early for the Jubilee; the cat is well and truly out of the bag) and that’s not really enough to lure me into siding with him again, even though I really rate his abilities. To be honest, I could talk myself into suggesting that he should be around 7/2 to win this, thus deeming him value, but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do so I’ll shut up right about now! The likelihood is that he’s correctly priced and his chance is just too obvious to bother with. Pity.
Spanish raider Noozhoh Canarias looks likely to come back to Britain in a bid to make it third time lucky in Group 1 company, having lined up as a 22/1 shot in this year’s running of the 2,000 Guineas last month. He showed plenty of pace on that occasion and has generally looked a fast horse in his career, but I have my doubts over him dropping back a couple of furlongs to try his hand at sprinting in hot company. On breeding, you’d have to be worried as he’s out of a Singspiel mare who won over as far as 1m 3f (indeed, is a half-sister to a 2-mile winner) and the only saving grace there is that his sire Caradak is a fair speed influence. He could relish it and the visual impression would suggest that he will, but this is going to be a different ballgame altogether and my overriding feeling is that the horse wants 7f-1m in order to show his best. That could be very wrong, but hopefully not.
Aljamaaheer is next up at the 8/1 mark and is sure to have his supporters once again on what will be just his third outing as a sprinter. Before the Diamond Jubilee, he was the one I was most interested in seeing given his previous form over further at the track and the entire performed really well, finishing with a rattle inside the last couple of furlongs. That effort was all too late but is credible as he didn’t get much of a pull through most of the race and as we all know when it comes to sprints, you need plenty to be in your favour to win. I’d say he can do better in this code before long, but whether the July course at Newmarket will suit his come-from-behind style of racing is anyone’s guess and I don’t think that it will.
One horse who will love the nature of this track is the front-running Astaire and at a best-priced 22/1 (20/1 Generally), I’m inclined to believe that he’s being unfairly overlooked. He’s only a 3-year-old so was always likely to find this season a struggle, but that didn’t look to be the case when he was second to Maarek in the Group 2 Chipper Logistics at York last month and you can absolve him of his sins at Royal Ascot when 6-lengths behind Slade Power as the fast ground there wouldn’t have been totally ideal in such company. He burnt himself out on that occasion having went plenty hard enough at the head of affairs but was far from disgraced in any regard and those tactics, should they be persisted with, will work a lot better around here. We will have to hope that the ground isn’t too quick on the day (handles it quick, prefers some give), but that’s factored into the price and an e/w play will do.
Selection for the July Cup (3:50 Newmarket; Saturday, 12th July):
Astaire – each-way at 22/1, available with SkyBet. 20/1 Generally.
Post by James Boyle on 25/6/14.
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