The emergence of several top-class three-year-old sprinters adds extra depth to an outstanding renewal of the Group One July Cup at Newmarket, with the likes of Dragon Symbol, Rohaan (4.35), Creative Force and Line Of Departure laying down a serious challenge to the older horses, including up and coming Starman and last year’s winner, Oxted.
Rohaan started handicapping rated 55 but is 61lb higher now after a remarkable journey through the ranks. David Evans’s gelding posted a strong time when winning the Wokingham last month and could have at least one more big step forward in him yet.
York 1.45 Eagleway’s draw in 14 is a worry but Jim Crowley is booked and his second in the Victoria Cup is as strong as any of the recent form on offer.
Newmarket 2.05 Riknnah has been progressing steadily and had a bit to spare when successful over this track and trip on her handicap debut last month.
York 2.20 Fujaira Prince, last year’s Ebor winner over this course and distance, made a successful seasonal debut in 2019 and 2020 and has the beating of this field if anywhere close to his best.
Newmarket 2.40 Royal Fleet and Kaheall are on the up. The latter showed a good attitude at Chelmsford last month and is narrowly preferred at the likely odds.
Ascot 3.00 Al Suhail was below form in Dubai in March but has been gelded since and put up a couple of performances last term that could make him a big player here at around 9-1.
Newmarket 3.15 Likely favourite Dhabab is untested over seven furlongs but Chesham third Great Max has no issues with the trip.
Ascot 3.35 Boundless Power has improved since joining Mick Appleby last winter. A high draw is a bonus and 10-1 looks generous.
Newmarket 3.50 Progressive Perotto could be a Group horse in his last handicap here. Ametist is the obvious danger.
York 4.05 Astro King ran into a Pattern-class colt off 8st 9lb in a handicap in the Royal Hunt Cup last time, but “won” on the stands’ side and will take plenty of beating off the same mark.
York 4.40 Winter Power paid the price for helping to set a white-hot pace in the King’s Stand Stakes last time, but her winning form over course and distance in May gives her an obvious chance.
Snow Lantern sorts out mother’s unfinished business
Eight years on from one of the more controversial finishes to a Group One in recent memory, Snow Lantern brought closure for the Hannon family here on Friday with a half-length success in the Falmouth Stakes – the same race in which her mother, Sky Lantern, finished second in 2013 after being carried halfway across the course by Elusive Kate.
That race was followed by an extended stewards’ inquiry and then an appeal to the BHA, neither of which led to any change in the placing of Richard Hannon Snr’s filly. So it was left to the next generation, both human and equine, to sort out the unfinished business, as Snow Lantern charged through the final furlong to beat Mother Earth and Alcohol Free – both already Group One winners – in the final strides, with Lady Bowthorpe looking a little unlucky as she also finished strongly in fourth.
“These Group One races, you need to be at your best and there are no weak ones at all,” Richard Hannon Jnr, who took over the licence from his father in 2014, said afterwards. “I’m delighted to win one and not be unlucky for a change.
“I always thought we did [have closure for 2013], you don’t want to win a race in the stewards’ room. It’s done, but this is great, years on. There’s a football match on Sunday apparently, and I couldn’t care less. Normally in the Falmouth there are two or three nice fillies but all the good fillies were there today and she showed how good she is and what she is capable of.”
Snow Lantern is entered in both the Nassua Stakes, over another two furlongs, and the one-mile Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this month, and Hannon is inclined to keep her racing against her own sex in the former contest.
Earlier on the card, Sandrine followed up her win in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot with an even more impressive success in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes – formerly the Cherry Hinton – to earn quotes of around 20-1 for next year’s 1,000 Guineas.
Sandrine finished powerfully up the final hill and it took some time for David Probert to pull her up, suggesting that a mile will be well within her range next season.
“She got a bit lonely in front but she’s got a lot of ability,” Andrew Balding, the winner’s trainer, said. “She’s so relaxed as well, which bodes well for her chances of staying a mile next year.
“I don’t want to travel her at this stage and our only [immediate] Group One options are in Ireland and France, so we’ll just have to give her a little break and gear her up for the Cheveley Park Stakes [in September].”