Newmarket is a real hub of horse racing and the sport’s spiritual home. The Suffolk town is used as the base of many racing trainers so a large number of people in the town are involved in the industry. It’s also home to the world class Newmarket Racecourse which is ready to host its signature summer meeting, the July Festival.
Each day of the July Festival includes excellent races which take top billing. The Princess Of Wales’s Stakes, Falmouth Stakes and Darley July Cup are the undoubted highlights but each race has its merits.
Day One: Thursday
|12.10||British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes||Class 2||6f|
|12.45||Price Promise at bet365 Handicap||Class 2||6f|
|1.15||Each Way Extra at bet365 Handicap||Class 3||1m|
|1.50||Bahrain International Sir Henry Cecil Stakes||Listed||1m|
|2.25||Bahrain Trophy Stakes||Listed||1m5f|
|3.00||Tattersalls July Stakes||Group 2||6f|
|3.35||bet365 Handicap||Class 2||6f|
|4.10||Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes||Group 2||1m4f|
The first day of the July Festival is something of a slow burner with a couple of lower profile races to begin with building towards a steady crescendo later on including the Group 2 July Stakes and Princess Of Wales’s Stakes. Mind you, after so long without racing, we’re certainly not going to get fussy and there is a nice mix of action to get this meeting underway.
The weather is also mixed and we’ve had a bit of sunshine, as well as plenty of showers, in the local area leading up to Thursday’s action. That has provided ground which should be perfect for racing but there’s every chance it will soften up with the rain that’s in the forecast during the card itself, which could make things interesting later in the day.
12.10 British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes
Newmarket, Class 2, 6f
The July Festival gets started with a maiden for two-year-olds. The field is full of horses with plenty of promise but who have just not been able to make it count by winning. Willabell is one of those about whom connections have high hopes and you’d have to think she has a good chance of winning at the third attempt.
After making an explosive start to her career in her first race, John Gosden’s filly just made a mistake at the wrong time and ended up finishing second. She then found the field in the Albany Stakes too good for her but this looks to be more her level.
There will most likely be two or three ahead of her in the betting but with questions to answer for all of those she gets the nod here.
Willabell to win
12.45 Price Promise At bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 6f
This is one of a number of competitive handicaps taking place over the course of the July Festival. The nature of these races and the strange feel to the whole season suggests that we will see plenty of upsets at Newmarket and those looking for one in this 6f contest should consider taking the huge looking odds of 20/1 available about Poyle Vinnie.
Ruth Carr’s 10-year-old showed that he still has the hunger for racing with a decent performance a couple of weeks ago at Haydock. He maybe could have done better from a good draw but should come on for that run and has every chance of landing a place at a tasty price. His age is obviously something of a question mark but he looked in good nick at Haydock and is worth risking here at the prices.
Poyle Vinnie each way at 20/1
1.15 Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 1m
There is another handicap next up but it may well pay to take a contrasting approach in the Each Way Extra At bet265 Handicap. That’s because Maydanny is getting a lot of support at the head of the market and for very good reason.
Hamdan al Maktoum splashed out 1,350,000 guineas on this son of Dubawi so clearly had high hopes that he would be successful at the top level. It’s not yet happened for the four-year-old but his two outings so far this season have suggested that he has scope for improvement and can start repaying that large fee.
After proving far too good for his opponents in a Class 4 handicap at Yarmouth, Maydanny had to carry 10lb extra for his Royal Ascot outing in the Silver Royal Hunt Cup. Completely on the wrong side of the draw he never had a realistic chance of winning and emerged with credit for being the first horse home on the far side. He’s had his mark trimmed down a couple of pounds due to that result and looks well treated against this calibre of opposition so back Maydanny to win at 6/4.
Maydanny to win at 6/4
1.50 Bahrain International Sir Henry Cecil Stakes
Newmarket, Listed, 1m
The Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes is a good prize for three-year-olds who are either lightly raced and in the very early stages of their career or who have failed to make the grade when tested out at the top level.
The top three in the betting all fall into the former category with connections of Lord Campari, Magical Morning and Tilsit all hoping that their impressive runs to date are mere glimpses of what is to come.
Of the market leaders it’s Magical Morning who makes the most appeal at a widely available price of 5/1. This is a big step up in class for John Gosden’s charge but he was put under pressure in his last outing and the way he responded to it by pulling away looked like a horse with much more experience. He has lots of stamina on his dam’s side suggesting that he could get even further than 1m but for now is well placed to utilise his stamina and pace in a good renewal of the July Stakes.
It’s also worth mentioning Al Suhail, who could be the joker in the pack at a decent price of 8/1. Despite running a tame race in the 2,000 Guineas, his breeding suggests he’ll get better the more experience he picks up. Dropping back in class, it is easy to make an each way case about his chances.
Magical Morning to win at 5/1, Al Suhail each way at 8/1
2.25 Bahrain Trophy Stakes
Newmarket, Group 3, 1m5f
Next up we have the Bahrain Trophy Stakes, a Group 3, middle distance race which is often used as a trial for the St Leger at Doncaster towards the end of the season. This is a race with a competitive look to it and several of the eight runners have been given a good chance of winning by the bookies.
Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have strong fancies in the race but William Haggas trains the favourite in Al Aasy and it would be no surprise to see the market call this correctly. After a couple of unimpressive performances to start his career, Al Aasy really came on for the step up to 1m4f last time out at Newmarket when winning by 10 lengths.
He looks ready for this step up in class and should have no problem getting one extra furlong so back Al Aasy to win and set up a run in the St Leger at 3/1. He’s currently 25/1 for the Classic but those odds won’t last long if he delivers the goods here.
Al Aasy to win at 3/1
3.00 Tattersalls July Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 6f
The July Stakes is a high class contest for juveniles who have already shown plenty of promise in the early stages of their career. That’s an accurate description of Qaader who tops the betting at 11/4. Mark Johnston’s colt has already competed at the Group 2 level when second in a rather strange renewal of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A number of leading contenders didn’t give their running in the Coventry and the race was won by 150/1 shot Nando Parrado. Whilst he should have got the better of the outsider, Qaader was one of the few well-backed horses to emerge from the race with any credit. Indeed, he should improve from the experience, hopefully running in a truer line down the closing straight at Newmarket than he did at Ascot.
Qaader is the worthy favourite and we fancy he will reward favourite backers. He does face some potentially very smart opponents most notably in the shape of the Queen’s horse Tactical and Yazaman for William Haggas, but should make the required improvement to add a Group 2 win to his CV.
Qaader to win at 11/4
3.35 bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2 Heritage Handicap, 6f
Whilst some three-year-olds competing at the July Festival only have a couple of runs under their belts, those competing in the bet365 Handicap have generally already been seen multiple times on the racecourse. A certain amount of experience is a necessity in order for horses not to be overawed by competing against 19 others and punters would be wise only to support horses who have shown a certain amount of grit already and who have prospered in big-field events.
Exceptional looks to fit the bill very nicely indeed. Richard Fahey’s filly showed a likeable attitude when winning in her first outing of the season at Pontefract at the start of May and then plugged on gamely next time out at Newmarket despite only being able to finish third when an odds-on favourite.
It appeared as though the time between those two runs was not sufficient for Exceptional to give her true running at Newmarket. She’ll be fresher thanks to the best part of three weeks away from competitive action so she looks a very good each way option at very chunky odds of 16/1.
Exceptional each way at 16/1
4.10 Princess Of Wales's Tattersalls Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 1m4f
The Princess Of Wales’s Stakes is a high calibre way to bring the curtain down on the first day of the Newmarket July Festival. We look to have a very good renewal of this Group 2 in prospect too, with the betting headed by the popular Enbihaar.
John Gosden’s mare came into her four-year-old campaign lightly raced and made some excellent steps forward last year, showing incredible grit and determination to bag a hat-trick of Group 3s before a credible third place in a Group 1 at Longchamp on very soft ground. She would be the choice of racing fans and punters to win this but may just find that 1m4f on good ground is a touch too sharp for her to really make the most of her stamina reserves. If things soften up sufficiently she may well still have a chance but as it is we can’t quite see her delivering.
That opens up the door to Alounak who looks to have a good year ahead of him now that he’s been brought over from Germany and placed in the very capable hands of Andrew Balding. Alounak has competed with distinction in two challenging races so far and with room still to come on for those runs he is the most likely to serve it up to the favourite at 9/2.
Alounak to win at 9/2
Day Two: Friday
|12.10||Cashout at bet365 Handicap||Class 3||1m4f|
|12.45||Each Way Extra at bet365 Handicap||Class 3||5f|
|1.15||bet365 British EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 3||1m|
|1.50||Price Promise at bet365 Handicap||Class 3||7f|
|2.25||Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes||Group 2||6f|
|3.00||bet365 Trophy||Class 2||1m6f|
|3.35||bet365 Handicap||Class 2||1m2f|
|4.10||Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes||Group 1||1m|
Newmarket very much saves the best to last on the second day of the July Festival with the Falmouth Stakes closing the card. That Group 1 contest for fillies and mares will attract most of the attention but there is some excellent viewing to be had throughout Friday. The variety of races will keep punters on their toes but it does produce some great chances to win.
12.10 Cashout at bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 1m4f
The second day of the July Festival opens with a fairly low grade handicap for three year olds. That does not mean that it is a poor race though. The majority of the runners are still in the very early stages of their careers and some will doubtless be able to rise up through the handicap ranks.
Connections of those at the head of the market are certainly hopeful of some big paydays in the future. Bookies’ favourite Group One Power has looked like a horse who has more to give despite not winning in either of his two starts in handicaps so far and has been fairly well backed at odds of 5/2. Then there are half-siblings Grand Bazaar (9/2) and Spectrum Of Light (11/2) who both won their most recent race to boost the credentials of their sire, Golden Horn, as a producer of good younger horses.
None of the top three in the betting have shown the sort of consistency that would get you excited about backing them at the current prices though. Therefore, it could be worth placing an each way bet on Eastern Sheriff at 6/1. Hugo Palmer’s colt looked like a horse who was ahead of the handicapper on his handicap debut at Ripon even if it the field he beat that day was fairly poor. He is one who could be destined for better things so should be competitive off a mark of 87.
Eastern Sheriff each way at 6/1
12.45 Each Way Extra at bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 5f
Sprint handicaps are often very difficult races in which to run. This is not the sort of racing that you want to spend much time watching if you’re simply interested in the best horse winning, but the chance for things to go awry in running and for strange results makes this an incredibly entertaining division.
Connections of Celsius know just how tough – and at times unfair – sprint handicaps can be. Their charge kicked this season off with a very good win at Haydock over five furlongs and was subsequently well supported to do the double over six furlongs at the same track. However, his race was over almost as soon as it began as he broke poorly from the stalls and was bumped by a rival early on.
If the gritty four year old gets a better time of it during the Each Way Extra at bet365 Handicap at Newmarket there is every chance that he will return to form. The handicapper clearly believed that bad luck played a part last time as Celsius hasn’t been cut from a rating of 91 but he should have the class to win off that mark at 4/1.
Celsius to win at 4/1
1.15 bet365 British EBF Maiden Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 7f
Next up a group of two year olds who are either making their racecourse debut or who have been as yet unable to win will do contest in this seven furlong maiden. Tackling this distance at this earliest of stages demands that all of those in the field have a certain amount of stamina in their breeding and when you look through the pedigree lines it is tough not to be immediately drawn to Magical Land.
By Frankel and out of Mistrusting who actually won over this course and distance and won a Listed race at Newmarket, Magical Land is a beautifully bred colt. Connections are hopeful that he will be able to build on his debut run in which he just lacked a bit of pace compared to the winner and that he will take this decent looking race.
Magical Land to win
1.50 Price Promise At bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 7f
Punters may well be left scratching their heads looking at this tricky seven furlong handicap which comes next on the card at Newmarket. It is possible to tackle this is a number of different ways and may be one of those races where it pays to have a couple of different options on board.
The first horse to consider is Breanski at odds of 8/1. Jedd O’Keeffe’s six year old has built steadily into this season with an eye-catching run last time out at Redcar when he was third but only half a length shy of the winner. The other candidate for each way support is Fighting Temeraire who is also an 8/1 shot. This experienced seven year old still has plenty in the tank as he’s been climbing the rankings over the last year but is better treated than most in the field and is set to run another big race.
Breanski and Temeraire each way, both at 8/1
2.25 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 6f
This Group 2 contest for two year olds often includes several fillies who are very smart and that looks to be the case this year. Dandalla, winner of the Albany Stakes, is probably deserving of her place at the top of the betting. Time Scale follows closely behind at the prices having come on for each of her three runs so far and is another who has the class to be a serious contender at the top level.
The top two in the betting will rightly get lots of support but there is every chance that this could just come too soon after big runs at Royal Ascot and Newmarket respectively. Could that open the door for More Beautiful?
The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly simply did not give her running in the Queen Mary Stakes. As disappointing as that run was, it is the sort of thing that can easily happen to juveniles. A half-sister to Saxon Warrior, More Beautiful should get better over the longer trips and is taken to win on her step up to six furlongs at 7/2.
More Beautiful to win at 7/2
3.00 bet365 Trophy
Newmarket, Class 2 Heritage Handicap, 1m6f
The bet365 Trophy is up there with the most valuable handicaps of the July Festival. Even with the current restrictions on prize money due to the lack of fans there’s £60,000 in the pot with 17 horses set to do battle over the staying trip of 1m6f.
Many of the challengers for this race will find that the trip is a little too steep for them and will burn out before the final furlong. That is not the concern for Themaxwecan. Mark Johnston’s four year old has ample stamina to get further than this trip and if anything it was a lack of pace that cost him the chance to win the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Any rain in the ground would do his chances of winning the power of good as it would turn this into more of a test of stamina than it already is. He has a good chance of claiming at least a place even on good ground though as the he’s been cut three pounds for his Ascot showing so has solid each way appeal at 17/2.
Themaxwecan each way at 17/2
3.35 bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2 Heritage Handicap, 1m2f
Punters seem happy enough to follow the bookies’ prices for the bet365 Handicap with support coming in for Global Storm (4/1) and Kipps (9/2) who sit at one and two in the betting respectively. There is a good case to be made for each of those horses and either may well go on to win but it is tough to get excited about those prices. It is easy, however, to get excited about the 10/1 available about Morisco’s chances of winning.
Tom Dascombe’s charge will have to carry top weight in this 1m2f contest after a taking win over this same 1m2f trip in a handicap at Newbury in the middle of June. He has the class to be competing at a higher level than this though and may well be tried out against Listed company in the coming weeks and months, even sooner should he win at Newmarket on Friday.
Morisco each way at 10/1
4.10 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes
Newmarket, Group 1, 1m
What a finishing race we have to enjoy on Friday’s action at the July Festival. The Falmouth Stakes has been contested by some excellent fillies and mares over the years and the starring cast for the 2020 renewal is very exciting.
The leading light according to the bookies is Terebellum and it is hard to argue with her billing. John Gosden’s four year old is a very big, heavy filly so it takes some time and a lot of work to get her properly race fit. That she was able to win a decent renewal of the Dahlia Fillies’ Stakes on her first run of the season caught the eye therefore and she came so close to following that win up with another at Royal Ascot where she was just pipped at the line by Circus Maximus in the Queen Anne.
Her run at Ascot showed that she has the pace for a mile so the trip will pose no concern. Moreover, she should have enough stamina reserves compared to her rivals in the Falmouth Stakes to cope should the ground soften up, so Terebellum looks a worthy favourite at odds of 5/4.
Terebellum to win at 5/4
Day Three: Saturday
|12.10||bet365 Handicap||Class 3||1m4f|
|12.45||bet365 British EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes||Class 4||7f|
|1.15||bet365 Novice Stakes||Class 4||1m|
|1.50||bet365 Mile Handicap||Class 2||1m|
|2.25||British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap||Class 2||7f|
|3.00||bet365 Superlative Stakes||Group 2||7f|
|3.35||Darley July Cup Stakes||Group 1||6f|
|4.10||bet365 Bunbury Cup||Class 2||7f|
Saturday brings the final day of the July Festival at Newmarket. Like the previous two days there is a good mixture of racing on the card for Saturday including the Group 1 July Cup and the Bunbury Cup, a handicap that always produces a thrilling finish.
12.10 bet365 Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 1m4f
Country had a very good time of it as a three year old and attracted a lot of support on his seasonal reappearance a month ago. Unfortunately for those who supported him, this son of Dubawi was unable to live up to his billing as the favourite for that 1m2f handicap. William Haggas’s four year old should still have a profitable season ahead and it is no surprise to see him stepped back up to a mile and a half. The handicapper has dropped him just a pound for that most recent run and only two will carry more than him on Saturday but at odds of 5/1 he is a very tempting option in the Newmarket opener.
Country to win at 5/1
12.45 bet365 British EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 7f
The second race of the day at Newmarket pits a group of two year olds against each other, the majority of whom have never had a racecourse run before. This is certainly a race for punters to keep their eye on as they try to pick out potential stars of the future but it could also be a profitable race for those who back Nash Nasha.
Godolphin and Charlie Appleby are hopeful that they have a potential gem in this very well-bred filly and although she will have to overcome greenness and the excitement that comes with a debut performance, her natural ability may well see her through.
Nash Nasha to win at 15/8
1.15 bet365 Novice Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 1m
The bet365 Novice Stakes is ostensibly a chance for three year olds to get a run in open company but there is only one four year old in the entire field which isn’t surprising given the nature of the race. Each of those in the field has a lot still to prove but the flip side of that is that they have plenty of room for improvement.
This sort of race can often throw up a surprise. Al Mutathar sprung such a surprise in another novice race on his debut last month, winning at chunky odds of 16/1. That was a much stronger race than it initially looked on paper so he should be able to cope with this rise in class to win again.
Al Mutathar to win at 3/1
1.50 bet365 Mile Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 1m
The bet365 Mile Handicap sees an increase in the quality of the racing at Newmarket on Saturday and is the first race of the day being covered by ITV Racing. This competitive handicap includes several horses about whom it is easy to make a compelling case including Eastern World and Haqeeqy who both return to Newmarket having won on the course’s other track, the Rowley Mile, last time out.
Of the two it is the latter who makes the most appeal at a price of 6/1. John Gosden and his team did some excellent work over the winter to make sure that this promising, improving three year old was fit as possible for the start of the truncated season and he may still be slightly ahead of the handicapper so can go in at a good price.
Haqeeqy to win at 6/1
2.25 British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 7f
There’s another highly competitive handicap up next in the shape of the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap. Again, this seven furlong handicap is for three year olds only but as the name suggests it is also restricted to fillies.
We are still learning about most of those in the field at this stage of their careers so this is one of those races where there is a real chance to pick up some good prices from the bookmakers who are making their best guess just like punters.
The 12/1 available about Nasaiym certainly stands out as being a very tempting price. She showed a very likeable attitude as a two year old which should stand her in good stead as she makes her handicap debut.
Nasaiym each way at 12/1
3.00 bet365 Superlative Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 7f
The Superlative Stakes is one of the leading contests for potentially smart two year olds at this stage of the season. It is easy to see just how highly regarded this race is by looking at the list of powerful owners and trainers who have entries into the Group 2 event on Saturday.
Obviously, backing any of those in the field comes with a certain amount of faith involved as there is very limited form to go on. However, the form from Master Of The Seas’ first run has worked out well with the horse he beat into second place, William Bligh, going on to win next time out. This son of Dubawi travelled very well for a horse on debut and quickened well enough to win. It won’t take too much improvement for him to go on and win again at a decent price of 5/1.
Master Of The Seas to win at 5/1
3.35 Darley July Cup
Newmarket, Group 1, 6f
The Darley July Cup is the feature race of the final day of the July Festival. As ever, this Group 1 race has attracted a high class field of sprinters including several of the sprint stars from Royal Ascot. Hello Youmzain, winner of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, very much fits into that category and connections are confident that he will follow that win up with what would be his third Group 1 success.
There are some concerns for Hello Youmzain though. Firstly, this is his first race at Newmarket and it remains to be seen how he will cope with the rises and falls of the July Course. Secondly, there’s always the threat of a big run at Royal Ascot leaving too much of a mark on these highly strung thoroughbreds. Thirdly, he will have to finish ahead of some excellent sprinters such as Sceptical, Khadeem (both of whom he beat at Ascot) and bookies’ favourite Golden Horne (who he faces for the first time).
This is a race which will demand the very best from Hello Youmzain but the news from home is that he is in excellent condition and ready to give his all once again so 5/1 looks a very good price indeed.
Hello Youmazain to win at 5/1
4.10 bet365 Bunbury Cup
Newmarket, Class 2, 7f
The July Festival has a knack for saving cracking races until the end so it is no surprise that the curtain is drawn on the three day meeting by a race of the calibre of the Bunbury Cup. This is always a thoroughly entertaining and fluid betting market. Whilst there is sure to be plenty of movement on the day with horses being backed in so it makes sense to take an early position on horses that you fancy.
This is a race which has produced several winners at longer odds over the years and there are two in the field who can add to that trend in the 2020 renewal. The first of these is Kimifive at 20/1 who has been in sparkling form since the return of racing at the start of June. Unlike some of the leading contenders, Kimifive doesn’t have a big run at Royal Ascot to overcome and can run into at least a place.
The second horse to consider backing each way is Tomfre at odds of 12/1. Ralph Beckett’s three year old came agonisingly close to winning a competitive handicap last time out at Sandown, showing improvement from his first run of the season. Similar improvement this time around can see him go one better and win off a mark of 97.
Kimifice each way at 20/1, Tomfre each way at 12/1
About the Meeting
One of the real sporting highlights of the summer months is the plethora of flat racing festivals on offer. No sooner is one over and done, than another seems to be on the horizon. From Royal Ascot to Glorious Goodwood, from Chester to York, racing is the sport which just keeps on giving over the summer months, with top class action all over the country.
It is the course of Newmarket which is the spiritual and organisational home of the flat racing game though, and as such it is only fitting that the Suffolk venue throws its hat into the ring with a top class festival of its own.
Held in mid-July each year and taking place on the July course at HQ, this three-day meeting lays on 21 contests for our viewing and punting pleasure. With seven Group races in all, including two at the very highest level, intermixed with high quality handicapping and juvenile action, this is one summer racing show that is definitely not to be missed. Here we take a look at this excellent meeting’s flagship contests to get your racing juices flowing.
This is the July Meeting, held on the July Course and it is the July Cup which fittingly acts as the headline act across the three days. Part of the British Champion Series, this prestigious Group 1 affair, a six furlong sprint, annually attracts the real superstars of the sprinting game, who line up to do battle for the £500,000 in total prize money on offer. Open to all runners aged three and older, be they fillies, geldings or colts, this contest really does determine who is the fastest of them all.
Diadem, Abernant and Right Boy all have their names in the sprinting hall of fame, and all won this race twice. Sundridge bettered those achievement though when landing three successive editions between 1902 and 1904. The names of Oasis Dream, Muhaarar and Harry Angel feature prominently on the list of champions from the current century, in what is a high class roll of honour.
Princess of Wales’s Stakes
Taking centre stage on the opening day is this 1m4f Group 2 event open to all runners aged three and older. Named in honour of Alexandra of Denmark who became Princess Of Wales back in 1863, this race was added to the Newmarket offering in 1892 and quickly became established as one of the summer’s top targets for the middle distance performers. Initially held over the one mile trip, both the distance and prize money have increased over the years, with a more than tidy purse of £100,000 on offer in 2018.
Sir Michael Stoute seems to have a particular affinity with this race having recorded a hugely impressive nine wins as of 2018, putting him out in front in the training ranks. This race has also been the scene of a returning hero on a few occasions over the years, with Lance Chest, Primera, Lomond, Millenary and more recently the ever popular Big Orange all winning back to back editions.
Duchess of Cambridge Stakes
The juvenile fillies provide the chief supporting act on Day 2 in this Group 2 contest held over the straight 6f. With £80,000 (2018) up for grabs this event regularly attracts the speediest and most promising fillies in the game. Initially known as the Cherry Hinton Stakes, the race was renamed in honour of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in 2013.
The top trainers in the game tend to target the stars of their fillies strings at this event, with previous winners of the race often going on to achieve great things. Sweet Solera was good enough both to go on and win the subsequent season’s 1000 Guineas and then even have a race named in her honour. Another to achieve Classic success was the Mark Johnston-trained splay-legged wonder, Attraction, who landed the 2003 edition of this.
The first Group 1 contest of the meeting sees the fillies aged three and older line up for this one mile long event which acts as the centrepiece to the Day 2 card. Named in honour of the 6th Viscount Falmouth, who counted horse racing amongst her chief interests, the contest offers £200,000 (2018) in total prize money, and regularly attracts a star studded field.
The tough and talented Soviet Song and Sir Michael Stoute’s Sonic Lady are the only dual winners of the race as of 2018, with the brilliant duo of Goldikova and Alpha Centauri two others to feature prominently on the list of former heroines.
Best Of The Rest
It’s not all about the Group class action at Newmarket in July though, with one of the many attractions of this meeting being the quality and range of the handicaps on offer. The pick of those for us is the historic Bunbury Cup. Taking place on the closing day, this fiercely competitive Class 2 7f event is open to all runners aged three and over. Not always an easy one to call, it does often throw up some winners at tasty odds, rewarding those who manage to unpick the tricky puzzle of this race.
The stamina laden three year olds take to the track in this contest which acts as one of the highlights on the opening day. 1m5f is the trip for this Group 3 affair which offers £150,000 (2018) prize money. Three time Arc runner up, Youmzain, St.Leger hero, Masked Marvel and the hugely popular Persian Punch all feature on the roll of honour.
The meeting’s top contest for the juvenile colts regularly kicks off the action on the final day. Taking place over the 7f trip, this Group 2 event generally sees a field of Classic aspirants going to post. Won by the likes of Derby winner, Dr. Devious, and one of the greatest stallions of modern times, Dubawi, this is a race well worth keeping an eye on.
There’s certainly no shortage of high class two year old action at this meeting, with this Group 2 6f event held on the opening day representing another chance for the youngsters to showcase their talents. Having first been run in 1786, this is actually the oldest two year old contest run anywhere in the world. The speedy 1985 winner Green Desert is the standout amongst the list of previous winners, both for his exploits at the track and subsequently as a stallion, with many of his progeny, including Cape Cross and Desert Prince going on to great things.
There are few – if any – racing venues that are quite so steeped in history as Newmarket. Harking all the way back to 1667, when the track acted as the venue for match races between the nobles, it wasn’t long before the Suffolk course soon became the epicentre of the flat racing world.
It was close to a hundred years after those first knockings of racing at the track that this meeting came into being in 1765. Initially a two day affair, the popularity and quality of the festival continued to grow in subsequent years, which saw a number of the contests we know and love to this day join the party. Firstly we saw the July Stakes added in 1786, with the July Cup itself following in 1876.
The names of the other races here are littered with significant figures from racing’s gilded past, none more so than that of Sir Charles Bunbury. Bunbury was the man behind both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas held at this track, and also played a significant role in the introduction of the Derby itself. Indeed – but for a lost coin toss – the Derby – and all other Derby’s held around the world – would likely have been known as the Bunbury. The Kentucky Bunbury anyone?
It’s safe to say things have come a long way from those initial £100 match races held at the course, with the event now encompassing three days, and offering in excess of £1.2million in total prize money. Now well into its fourth century – how many sporting events can say that? – this excellent meeting is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.
A Complete History of the July Festival
Newmarket’s July Festival combines music, fashion and top-class horse racing to create a truly wonderful three-day summer spectacle. Its history goes back more than 250 years and below is a timeline of the key events that have shaped this brilliant meeting.
1765 – July Fixture Created
Newmarket introduced a fourth date to its racing calendar in July. Sometimes only featuring a small handful of races in its early years, by the following century the meeting spanned the course of a few days. The July Festival was born!
1786 – First Running of the July Stakes
The July Stakes is run for the first time. Now the longest running race specifically for two year olds in British flat racing, this is a six furlong sprint and, as of 2003, a Group 2 race. Bullfinch was the first winner of this one and whilst there can be no repeat victors from an equine perspective, George Fordham and Sir Gordon Richards have both ridden a record six winners in this historic contest.
1876 – Inaugural July Cup
The July Cup, now the centrepiece of the entire July Festival, was founded. The globally recognised six furlong dash crowns the champion European sprinter in the eyes of many and is a real highlight of the July Festival. Now a Group 1 contest, Springfield won the first two renewals and Sundridge is the only horse to land three July Cups, winning consecutively from 1902.
1894 – Creation of the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes
The Princess of Wales’s Stakes is run for the first time, the £10,000 contest being won by Isinglass, who had won the 2000 Guineas the previous year. Now a Group 2, this is run over 1m4f, having been extended from one mile in 1902. In recent times Big Orange (2015 and 2016) and Millenary (2002 and 2003), have joined the short list of multiple winners of the race.
1894 – Bunbury Cup Added
The Bunbury Cup is also added to the Newmarket card and honours British politician Sir Charles Bunbury, who is credited with introducing the 1000 and 2000 Guineas to Newmarket. The seven furlong handicap is open to all horses three and up and has been won three times by Mine (2002, 2005 and 2006).
1900 – Doricles shares the spotlight
Future St Leger champion Doricles secured the first win of his career in the July Stakes but it was a win shared with Veles following a dead heat. In the same race, Handicapper, who a year later beat Doricles to 2000 Guineas glory, finished among the unplaced finishers.
1911 – The First Falmouth Stakes
The (now) Group 1 Falmouth Stakes was established, a race contested over one mile, originally restricted to fillies aged three-years-old but now open to fillies and mares of that age and above. The name honours Evelyn Boscawen, a leading racehorse owner and the 6th Viscount Falmouth. The simply named Alice won the inaugural contest and since then Lester Piggott has ridden a record seven winners in this historic contest.
1929 – Tote Introduced On Course
Spectators of the July Festival now enjoyed the Tote by the course. It was the first major meeting in which the Government-owned corporation ever appeared.
1931 – Dead Heat
The Princess of Wales’s Stakes witnessed its first and only dead heat before the advent of the photo finish. Judges, unable to determine who crossed the line first, had no choice but to award the race to both Shell Transport and The Recorder.
1940 – Rowley Mile Used as WWII Airbase
The RAF commandeers the use of the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, turning it into an official Bomber Command Airbase. The July Course is then used all-year round for racing, making Newmarket the only course that remained operational during then entire course of the conflict.
1947 – Cherry Hinton Stakes Introduced
The Cherry Hinton Stakes is first run, with Great Fun taking the honours. Now called the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, this six furlong contest for the fillies is one to watch as a guide to who might deliver the goods in the following year’s 1000 Guineaas.
1965 – Starting Stalls Used for the First Time
The July Festival sees the use of starting stalls, yet to be introduced at any other racecourse in the country.
1977 – Gentilhombre Awarded Controversial July Cup
Marinsky finishes first in the July Cup but shortly after the race is demoted to second following a stewards’ inquiry. Gentilhombre is instead crowned champion, with the win later seeing him named the best sprinter in Europe.
1977 – Girls excluded from July Stakes
For nearly two centuries the July Stakes had been open to horses of both genders but this changed in 1977. Fillies could no longer take part with only colts and geldings now available for the six furlong sprint.
1991 – Bahrain Trophy moves
In previous July Festivals, the Bahrain Trophy had been the name of a seven furlong handicap restricted to three-year-olds. In 1991 however the name transferred to another event, replacing the H & K Commissions Stakes which in previous years had been run as a handicap. The new Bahrain Trophy took place over a distance of one mile and seven furlongs and carried Listed status.
1992 – Piggott Takes July Cup Total to Ten
Lester Piggott makes it win number 10 in the July Cup as he rides Mr Brooks to glory at Newmarket. Only in one other Group 1 race (the Ascot Gold Cup) did the legendary jockey enjoy more victories.
1999 – Royal Line disqualified
For the first time in Godolphin’s history, one of their horses failed a post-race test. The culprit was the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Royal Line who finished first in the Bahrain Trophy. The victory was scrapped from the record books however when tests revealed pentoxifylline in Royal Line’s system and instead Aidan O’Brien’s Moon Dragon claimed the win.
2002 – Clerk of the Scales Expels Capricho
Capricho crosses the finishing post neck and neck with the James Bethell-trained Mine for a rare dead heat in the Bunbury Cup. During the weigh-in though it was discovered Capricho ran 9lbs under his correct weight as trainer John Akehurst, who was fined £1,500 for the incident, forgot to add the weight cloth. Or should that be “forgot”?!
2004 – Falmouth Promoted to Group 1 Status
The Falmouth Stakes is handed Group 1 status, joining the July Cup as the festival’s two elite level races.
2004 – Dubawis First Group Win
Legendary stud Dubawi lands the Group 2 (then Group 3) Superlative Stakes with Frankie Dettori in the saddle. The Superlative Stakes was renamed thus in 1991 having originally been named in honour of the trainer Bernard van Cutsem Stakes, who died in 1975.
2007 – Creation of the Henry Cecil Stakes
The Xplor Conditions Stakes is added to the card and is won by Traffic Guard. Now called the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, this one mile listed contest honours the legendary 10-time Champion Trainer.
2007 – July Course Redevelopment
Redevelopment work on the July Course is complete. The £10m project saw the removal of redundant buildings behind the Grandstands, which made way for new bars, catering outlets and toilets. Another new addition was that of the twin pavilion buildings, connected by an aerial walkway which has proved a hit among July Festival attendees.
2009 – Bahrain Trophy Given Group 3 Status
The Bahrain Trophy becomes a Group 3 contest and is a key race on the July Meeting’s card. Normally featuring on the opening day of the festival, this 1m5f contest offered almost £100,000 to the winner in 2019.
2014 – Cavalryman finally fires
With Newmarket form reading 223 you might have thought Cavalryman had missed out on his chance to win at the course. At the ripe age of eight-year-old however the Godolphin runner claimed a neck’s length win after setting an especially slow pace in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes. By doing so he became the only horse older than six to win this race in decades.
2016 – 350th Anniversary
The historic Newmarket Town Plate, inaugurated in 1665 by the order of King Charles, marks the beginning of the July Festival. Typically the three mile six furlong contest runs later in the summer but organisers brought it forward as a way of celebrating Newmarket’s 350th anniversary.
2019 – Silver Bunbury Cup dropped
Having only managed to attract seven declared runners in 2018, Michael Prosser, clerk of the course at Newmarket, announced that the Silver Bunbury Cup would be under review. After some careful deliberation, Prosser and his colleagues opted to axe the Cup from the following July Festival schedule, replacing it with the brand new bet365 Trophy. The decision proved a popular one as 69 horses found themselves entered for the new £120,000 contest, targeted for older stayers.