2024 July Cup contenders: assessing the key runners for the big race at Newmarket on Saturday – Football News

2024 July Cup contenders: assessing the key runners for the big race at Newmarket on Saturday

The My Pension Expert July Cup takes centre stage at Newmarket on Saturday (4.35) and 13 horses remain in contention for the 6f Group 1. Here, we run through the form of the leading contenders and produce an early verdict on who will come out on top . . .

Form: 2-1611

Strengths: Raced exclusively over a mile on his first three starts, losing out by just half a length on his sole juvenile run before scoring with ease at Newcastle and finishing a respectable sixth in the 2,000 Guineas in his first two runs as a three-year-old.

The form of his debut second has been franked by winner Bellum Justum, who subsequently won the Blue Riband Trial and placed in the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot, and his Newcastle success also reads well, given the runner-up Kalpana, who was more than three lengths behind, has won and finished third in Ribblesdale Stakes since.

However, he has been a revelation since sent sprinting, dominating the field in the Sandy Lane on soft ground before delivering one of the standout performances of Royal Ascot when running away with the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.

His Racing Post Rating of 120 achieved that day is better than any of his rivals have produced this year and he’s still open to improvement on just his third go at sprinting.

Weaknesses: Despite winning both, he looked far more impressive on a quicker surface at Ascot than he did in beating a weaker field than he will face here at Haydock, so the rain is a slight worry. This is his first time running outside of his age group.

Jky: Tom Eaves Tnr: Kevin Ryan

Form: 1111-3

Strengths: He was last season’s best British-trained juvenile following an unbeaten campaign, which began when he justified favouritism in a Nottingham maiden.

He followed up in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in August before taking a big step forward at Deauville, beating Ramatuelle by a neck in the Group 1 Prix Morny, and then adding a second Group 1 to his CV on his final start last year in the Middle Park.

He wasn’t seen again until sent off at odds-on in the Sandy Lane at Haydock in May, when he was beaten four lengths into third by subsequent Commonwealth Cup scorer Inisherin.

He was entitled to need that first run in 238 days, though, with the very soft ground not helping in that regard, and there’s every reason to expect a better showing from the highest-rated runner in the field.

Weaknesses: Yet to conclusively prove he retains all of his juvenile ability and has to find four lengths with the improving Inisherin.

Jky: James Doyle Tnr: Simon & Ed Crisford

Form: 133-38

Strengths: He had some high-class juvenile form, following his Coventry Stakes win with two third-place finishes behind Vandeek in the Prix Morny and Middle Park.

He bettered that form on RPRs when finishing a length and a half behind Rosallion and Haatem in third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on his reappearance.

He couldn’t reverse form with Haatem when a beaten favourite in the Jersey Stakes, but Aidan O’Brien said this has always been the plan and he knows what it takes to land this Group 1, having won it on five occasions.

Weaknesses: Given his fine effort over a mile in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the return to sprinting doesn’t seem an obvious positive, while he has ground to make up with Vandeek on juvenile form.

Form: 1122-2

Strengths: Has proved ultra-consistent in Group races in the last couple of seasons, winning two Group 1s and four Group 2s while finishing outside of the top three on only two occasions (both in the Jubilee Stakes on good to firm ground).

He was making his first start since October when nabbed close home by the improving and race-fit Montassib in the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle last month, but he was always going to improve for that outing, given his lowest RPR for each of the last two seasons has come first time out.

Juice in the ground and the promise of more rain to come will be music to the ears of connections, with his career-best RPR (122, three times) coming with cut in the ground.

Weaknesses: Has won only one of his seven starts over 6f and may struggle to concede 6lb to the likes of Inisherin and Vandeek, just as he failed to do last year when third behind Shaquille.

Jky: Rossa Ryan Tnr: Ralph Beckett

Form: 151-22

Strengths: Showed big improvement last year, winning a handicap and a Listed contest over 5f before producing a career-best to land the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock in September.

He has run to a similar level to that in defeat in both starts this year, finishing second in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh before occupying the same position in the King Charles III Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

He stayed on strongly to snatch second from Big Evs last time, so a return to 6f looks a good move, and front-runners have a good record on the July course.

Weaknesses: Yet to race on any surface slower than good since joining Ed Bethell, having underperformed on his only encounter with soft ground.

Jky: Callum Rodriguez Tnr: Edward Bethell


Kinross and Regional can be expected to run to their usual level and should be respected, but they might struggle to concede 6lb to some promising three-year-olds. Of that age group, Vandeek and River Tiber have much more to prove than Inisherin, who has looked firmly on the up since sent sprinting and could still have plenty more to offer. You can pick holes in the form of his Commonwealth Cup success but all he could do was beat them easily, which he did. He could prove to be the outstanding sprinter in Europe this year.

Jky: Tom Eaves Tnr: Kevin Ryan

My Pension Expert July Cup (4.35 Newmarket, Saturday)
bet365: 2 Inisherin, 4 Vandeek, 5 River Tiber, 8 Kinross, 9 Regional, 10 Jasour, Mill Stream, 16 Khaadem, 20 Art Power, 25 Swingalong, 33 Mitbaahy, Vadream, Military

Read these next:

Commonwealth Cup scorer Inisherin one of 13 left in contention for Saturday’s July Cup at Newmarket 

Racing Post Members’ Club: 50% off your first three months 

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