Racing Preview: Newmarket July Festival & York Dante Festival 2020
There's a midweek feast of racing to look forward to on Thursday as the Newmarket July Festival roars into action alongside the York Dante Festival. Here we preview all the big races including the July Stakes and the Dante Stakes.
Lord Campari is likely to start a short price for this Listed contest and understandably so given his comfortable victory in a novice last time out over a subsequent winner. However he’ll have to kick on again to finish ahead of the likes of Al Suhail and Mystery Power.
The former was well backed before the off in the 2000 Guineas but didn’t give his running that day, and is of obvious interest based on his two-year-old form. At the prices though, preference is for Richard Hannon’s Mystery Power. The stable has previous in the race and while this son of No Nay Never needs to prove himself over a mile, he was staying on in the finishing stages of the Mill Reef. You can draw a line through his last run in the Jersey Stakes as he was drawn on the wrong side and he makes plenty of appeal here.
A really competitive affair, even with Franconia now declared a non-runner. John Gosden has won five of the last 10 and his two runners are an obvious starting point with Ricetta now thrusted into favouritism. She has bundles to find on ratings with some of these but the step up in trip will suit, she’s versatile ground-wise and given the stables’ riches when it comes to three-year-old fillies, is likely to give a bold showing.
Gosden’s other runner, Lake Lucerne, is already proven over the trip and, based on breeding, won’t mind any potential ease in ground conditions. Similar comments apply to Pocket Square whose defeat of Run Wild last season has received a boost. At a bigger price, Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora is of each-way interest given she’s proven at 1m2f and easily dismantled the field on her first start in June.
The market is headed by Windsor Castle Stakes winner Tactical and Coventry Stakes runner-up Qaader, both could kick on in this contest but given the draw bias at Ascot and this season’s cramped schedule, it’s tempting to take them both on.
Tom Dascombe’s Lauded is clearly well thought of and changed ownership prior to Ascot for a sizeable sum; he was drawn on the wrong side in the Coventry and will likely put in a much-improved performance here. Likewise James Tate’s Victory Heights, a real eye-catcher running on last time out, could go well with a clearer passage. However, preference is for Aidan O’Brien’s Swiss Ace, who arrives with only a maiden win to his name but that victory came in facile fashion and the fact the Ballydoyle handler sends only one over for this steep rise in class is likely a clue in itself.
Usually a strong pointer towards the Derby but not so much this year with the re-scheduling of the race. It can probably be argued though that the favourite for this race - Highest Ground - would’ve gone very close in the Epsom Classic given what we know now.
Opposition to Sir Michael Stoute’s colt is fairly thin on the ground with just six runners opposing. O’Brien’s Cormorant is interesting on his defeat of Russian Emperor in the Derrinstown and the unbeaten Al Madhar could take a further step forward following his win over Encipher (re-opposes here) last time. But really, this is all about Highest Ground, who has looked top class in his two victories to date and the even money on offer looks potentially worth taking as he takes this prize en route to loftier targets later in the season.