The first race of Newmarket’s three-day July meeting is the most valuable contest on an excellent card, the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy for three-year-olds over 1m 5f. The race is a recognised trial for the St Leger at Doncaster in September although the last horse to do the Bahrain/Leger double was John Gosden’s Masked Marvel back in 2011.
Gosden has saddled the winner of this corresponding race four times in the last eight years and his Waldstern made a winning debut on the July course back in August. He is much better than he showed on his reappearance at Chester when he was bogged down on the soft ground and at 8/1 with BetVictor he will have his supporters although he has a bit to find on official figures.
Michael Bell has always held Eagles By Day (1.50) in the highest regard and he put behind a poor run in the Lingfield Derby Trial to finish third behind Japan in the King Edward VII Stakes. I feel Japan will finish the season as the champion three-year-old and the selection is unlikely to meet anything of that calibre this afternoon. Bell’s Sea The Stars colt is 9/4 favourite with BetVictor today and is currently 20/1 for the final classic of the season.
Mark Johnston’s Visinari won a maiden over today’s C&D by over 3L on debut and connections decided to bypass the Coventry Stakes to wait for today’s July Stakes. That form has been boosted by the win of the fifth home and the third and fourth have run well in defeat. Frankie Dettori takes over in the saddle today, but at 11/10 with BetVictor he is overlooked in favour of Royal Ascot third Guildsman (2.20).
Archie Watson’s juvenile got to the front in the Coventry Stakes inside the final furlong, but was run out of it close home by both the highly-regarded pair of Arizona and Threat in what was, arguably, the best juvenile race of the season to date. The selection, who won by 6L on debut at Goodwood on soft ground, has yet to prove his effectiveness on fast ground but at 10/3 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a very big race.
Urban Icon ran an excellent race when fourth in the 7f Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and the runner up, Space Blues, has subsequently finished second in the Group 1 Jean Prat behind a rejuvenated Too Darn Hot at Deauville. He may, however, have been fortunate to finish in front of Momkin (4.40) not once but twice this season, and the vote goes to the Roger Charlton-trained runner.
The selection finished runner up to Skardu in the Craven Stakes on his reappearance, and that form has certainly been franked with the winner finishing third and fourth in the Newmarket and Irish Guineas. Indeed, you could argue that Momkin has been unlucky in all three starts this season to date and, granted a clear passage, I feel he will run a big race in a fascinating listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes.
In the opener at Doncaster I hope to see Perla Blanca (1.40) follow up her win in the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 7lbs higher mark. Recent Yarmouth winner Percy Prosecco should ensure there is a decent gallop and she is a big danger, but I hope she sets the race up for Ed Dunlop’s five-year-old.
Crantock Bay looks a winner waiting to happen, having finished runner up over C&D last time, but I feel the drop back to sprinting could be the making of Majaalis (2.45) who pulled hard, but travelled well to two out, when fading inside the final quarter mile over a mile at Newmarket last time.
Corncrake (4.25) took off close home when scoring at Nottingham on Saturday and, if in the same mood, a 6lbs penalty is unlikely to stop his following up. The handicapper has raised him 11lbs for that facile success and he will be a tough nut to crack although the booking of Colm O’Donoghue – his only ride of the day – for Sir Michael Stoute’s Felix is certainly eye-catching.
At Newbury Ambling drops back in trip to 10f, having looked a non-stayer when making most until running out of petrol over 12f at Newmarket on her reappearance back in May. Her subsequent absence from the track suggests something was amiss and a market move would be worth noting.
I am looking forward, however, to see whether Match Maker (7.15) can give 12lbs to the filly having returned from a 700-day absence to win at Ayr last month. Simon Crisford’s 4-year-old returns to the track just 20 days later, but the hope is that he can build on his reappearance with James Doyle taking over in the saddle.