Early July’s Coral Eclipse Stakes is generally regarded as the first “Clash Of The Generations” where the three-year-old’s face their older rivals for the first time.
The creation of Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup back in 2015 has thus rendered competition between the classic generation at the Royal meeting virtually non-existent and as such Saturday’s July Cup is now regarded as the first time the youngsters clash with the more experienced sprinters, presenting some great opportunity for horse racing betting fans.
At present just over half of the nineteen entries for the 6f Group 1 contest are three-year-old’s including the first and second from last months Commonwealth Cup in Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali.
Eqtidaar (6/1 at Sunbets) showed marked improvement that day having suffered defeats on his first two starts of the season including when fourth in a Listed contest at Newbury in May. He made no mistake on his first foray into Group 1 company at Ascot however and came out half a length to the good over Sands Of Mali.
Sands Of Mali (8/1 at William Hill) himself was coming into the race with an impressive record himself having won both starts prior to Royal Ascot in vastly differing conditions following up a heavy ground victory in France in April with a good ground victory in Group 2 company at Haydock in May.
Invincible Army (25/1 at Bet365), another three-year-old in this field also holds claims and while he disappointed when fancied in the market for the Commonwealth Cup he has form that ties in with both Sands Of Mali, who beat him a nose at Haydock and with Eqtidaar whom he beat on soft ground at Ascot in May.
There are a number of other three-year-old contenders including seven from the Irish yard of trainer Aidan O’Brien who has won this contest three times in the past including with three-year-old’s Stravinsky (1999) and Mozart (2001). The pick among his hopes would appear to be U S Navy Flag (5/1 at Coral) who’s profile appears to have similarities with both Stravinsky, who was also a Group 1 winner over 7f at two and Mozart, who was placed in the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh.
U S Navy Flag disappointed over 1m when attempting to make all at Royal Ascot last month and that effort suggests that a drop back to 6f could see him play a leading role in this contest. The absence of leading sprinter Harry Angel has taken some of the lustre away from the older horse challenge but they still boast the likely favourite in the shape of the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point (10/3 at Ladbrokes).
The winner of a Group 3 event last autumn he was narrowly beaten by top class sprinter Ertijaal in a 5f event at Meydan in February prior to a very disappointing effort in Hong Kong over this 6f trip two months later. The four-year-old returned to Europe with a bang however when winning the King’s Stand Stakes over 5f at Royal Ascot last time out. That marked his best effort so far and he has yet to race on the July course here with its stiff finish.
Surprisingly given their strong showing at the Royal meeting an Australian-trained horse hasn’t won this race in recent years although ex-Australian Starspangledbanner took this when in the care of Aidan O’Brien eight years ago.
Australian representation this year comes in the shape of Redkirk Warrior (10/1 at William Hill), winner of the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington (6f, Group 1) in March. The seven-year-old proved a disappointment at Royal Ascot and a better performance can be expected on this occasion.
The unexposed Dreamfield (10/1 at Black Type) is perhaps the most intriguing runner in the field having had just four starts with his latest coming when sent off a short priced favourite prior to a neck defeat in Royal Ascot’s valuable Wokingham Handicap. Trainer by John Gosden, the son of Oasis Dream, the winner of this race in 2003 is stepping up markedly in grade but remains open to improvement from a leading yard.
Limato (12/1 at Paddy Power) has proven a disappointment in the main since taking this race two years ago but has shown his liking for this venue and while well beaten twice this year crucially those contests came over 1m while his form suggests he is much better suited to 6f and 7f events.