SINCE Ajdal won the July Cup back in 1987, three-year-olds have won 11 of the last 30 renewals of this prestigious Group One six furlong prize (4.35pm).
And it is the quality of those from that generation that did manage to see off their elders that really shines off the page.
Royal Academy, Polish Patriot, Owington, Mozart, Oasis Dream and more recently, Dream Ahead and Muhaarar, were all top class sprinters.
There is every likelihood another three-year-old will join that list of greats tomorrow afternoon, with the unbeaten Caravaggio as short as evens with Coral to do so.
Regular followers of this column will know I opposed the son of Scat Daddy on value grounds at Ascot and I’m afraid I am all set to do so again.
Last time I took him on with HARRY ANGEL and there is a terrible sense of déjà vu here, as I’m going to side with Clive Cox’s three-year-old one more time.
Let me clarify one thing; the fact I am opposing Caravaggio doesn’t mean I think he won’t win. It’s purely a decision made on the respective prices of the two horses.
Don’t get me wrong, if they were the same price I’d side with Caravaggio. He’s a very special colt who is unbeaten in all six of his racecourse appearances.
My point is I think Harry Angel is another very special three-year-old who is so unlucky to have been born in the same era as Caravaggio.
I felt the discrepancy in prices between the two at Ascot was wrong and that Caravaggio should have been a bigger price and Harry Angel a shorter one.
Well, with Harry Angel available at 6/1 with Ladbrokes and Caravaggio just evens with Coral, I have to side with the former again.
Clive Cox’s sprinter showed tremendous speed at Ascot and watching live I felt tat he had Aidan O’Brien’s superstar in big trouble two furlongs out.
As it was, Caravaggio stalked him and was able to pounce late on.
Those tactics seem more effective at Ascot, but I’ve a feeling Newmarket may well play more to Harry Angel’s ‘catch me if you can’ tactics.
At 6/1, he rates a cracking each-way bet against his unbeaten rival.
Limato isn’t easily dismissed and last year’s winner will very much be there to pick up the pieces should the big two fail to fire on his favoured fast ground.
Another who could go well at a big price is Brando now Kevin Ryan’s yard are back firing.
The 20/1 on offer about him is a little insulting, but he is very much in the deep end here.
My best bet of the day runs later on in the three-year-old mile handicap (2.50pm).
AFAAK was really well-backed for last month’s Britannia Handicap and ran creditably to finish seventh.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story as his jockey Jim Crowley gave up what would have been an advantageous draw in stall 10 to tack along to the stands side group.
The action unfolded on the far side and I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have gone very close if he had stayed where he was.
There are some other progressive types in this race, but Charlie Hills’ inmate gets to run off the same mark of 92 and compensation awaits. Take the general 100/30.
The big betting handicap of the July meeting is the seven furlong Bunbury Cup (3.25pm).
This is a specialist distance and often features those stepping back in trip from the Hunt Cup or up in distance from the Wokingham.
FLAMING SPEAR didn’t run at Ascot because Kevin Ryan’s stable was only just re-opening after a bout of equine herpes.
The son of Lope De Vega hasn’t been seen since January, although I would suggest you look back at that win at Newcastle.
Nothing went right for Robert Winston’s mount, yet he produced an incredible turn of foot to mow down his rivals, landing a few hefty bets.
He looked like a well-handicapped horse that day and I could see him landing this prize before attempting to double up in the valuable International Handicap at Ascot in a fortnight.
I can see him going off shorter than the current 8/1.
Afaak 2.50pm Newmarket
Flaming Spear e/w 3.25pm Newmarket
Harry Angel e/w 4.35pm Newmarket
BILL ESDAILE’S JULY CUP 1-2-3
- Harry Angel