The Duke’s Weekend Preview

There’s already been some good races at Newmarket’s July Festival this week, but the pick of the action is on Saturday with the July Cup and Bunbury Cup.

They are both very different challenges when looking at them from a betting perspective, but hopefully we can bag the double.

The July Cup is one of the leading global sprint races and has been won by many of the great trainers and jockeys. Previous winning jockeys with a ride in this year’s race include Paul Hanagan (Mayson, 2012 and Muhaarar, 2015), Tom Queally (Fleeting Spirit, 2009), Adam Kirby (Lethal Force, 2013) and of course last year’s victorious jockey Harry Bentley who is aboard Limato again as they bid for a repeat success. Bentley missed out on riding Limato at Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, where connections employed the services of Ryan Moore, so perhaps Bentley will be even more fired up for this.

Limato’s best run of 2016 was in the July Cup and a replication of that would make him very tough to beat. However, the calibre of opposition will put down a real challenge.

Caravaggio is the short-price favourite after winning the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. Scarily, he’s still improving and yet he is already the highest-rated horse in the race. The quick conditions will suit him too. There is a good chance he could remain unbeaten. Harry Angel was second to Caravaggio at Ascot, only being overtaken late on.

One key thing to note at Newmarket from Friday was the strong wind, which appeared to be assisting front-runners. That could help Harry Angel, who will probably lead. Conversely, if front-runners do hold sway on Saturday, that might be a negative for The Tin Man, who likes to be held up and use his turn of foot to ping past them late on. He won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, just ahead of Tasleet and Limato. They are clearly closely matched on that performance.

The key for me is the weight-for-age allowance. If they were all running off level weights that would be one thing, but the three-year-olds get 6lbs from the older horses and for me that’s why I would favour Caravaggio and Harry Angel to be the first two home.

The Bunbury Cup is equally tough to decipher. Let’s start with Flaming Spear. He ran well at Newcastle when last seen in January but his best form is on the all-weather and I’ve put a line through him on that basis. Tashweeq is favourite after his eye-catching run in the Royal Hunt Cup. He’s due to go up in the weights, so he is technically 4lb well-in for this race. Robero won at Pontefract earlier in the week, but this is a much tougher race. Kadrizzi could outrun odds of 40/1 if the application of a visor brings about the necessary improvement, but his recent form has hardly looked positive.

The one for me is Mutawathea. Simon Crisford’s yard are in good form and this horse was third in the race last year off a pound higher mark. Not only that, but he put in a very strong runner-up performance at York last month to demonstrate his overall wellbeing. Lewis Edmunds claims five pounds again and that might help his chances too. In summary, he will like the ground, he likes the track, he’s in good form, his trainer is in good form and he’s on a fair mark. Mutawathea is 14/1 and I will happily take those odds. Happy punting!

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