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July Cup 2024 Ante-Post Preview: Don’t Hold Back River Tiber

The July Cup is the main race of the Newmarket July Festival, and it’s usually very competitive.

Clash Of The Sprinters

Again, like the Coral Eclipse, this is one of the first races where three-year-olds can take on the older sprinters. They receive a 6lb weight-for-age allowance, which can make a big difference.

In the last decade, all the horses who have won this race were either three or four, so it’s worth looking at the up-and-coming progressive horses.

Inisherin Warm Favourite

The horse who finds himself at the top of the market this year is Inisherin at 9/4 for Kevin Ryan. I’ve been sweet on this horse since he dropped back to sprinting after previously having been campaigned at a mile. He didn’t disgrace himself at Newmarket when he finished sixth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The son of Shamardal showed a lot of speed that day, but he just faded late on.

When his trainer Kevin Ryan dropped him back to 6f a lot of people were questioning if he had the speed. However, you always need to respect Kevin Ryan when it comes to sprinters as he’s mustard with them. Furthermore he’s from the family of Cape Byron and Ajman Princess, who were good sprinters, so speed is in his family.

Don’t Doubt Kevin Ryan

Since the 2,000 Guineas, he’s won the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes and the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup and looked impressive each time. In fact, winning the Commonwealth Cup has been a good stepping stone for this race. Last year’s winner Shaquille won both for Julie Camacho. Kevin Ryan has said this race has been the plan, and I think he’s got a great chance of winning it. 

Next in the betting is Van Deek for Simon and Ed Crisford. At 6/1 I’m happy to leave him, as he was turned over by Inisherin at Haydock on his seasonal return. Yes, he was an exceptional juvenile, but with him missing Royal Ascot and question marks over his stable form, it’s hard to know if he’ll take his chance.

Respect English Oak

English Oak is probably the most interesting horse in the line-up, stepping up from handicap company. He’s been progressing very well for Ed Walker and was last seen bolting up in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot over 7f. It doesn’t always transpire that handicappers make the step up into Group company, but he needs respect.

One horse who is likely to run here is the consistent Kinross. He was originally meant to run at Royal Ascot but became a non-runner late on. At the time of writing he’s entered at Newcastle on Saturday, so we’ll known more about his recent form then. He’s very versatile between 6f and 7f and is probably slightly better over the further trip I could see him running well, but he could be vulnerable to younger legs.

There are a couple of horses in here that catch my eye at bigger prices, and if they were declared.

River Tiber Has Plenty Of Speed

The first one of them is River Tiber for Aidan O’Brien. He was a bit disappointing last time out when he was sent off as a warm favourite for the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot over 7f. I just think the fact that he shows a lot of pace suggests he could be better over 6f.

Ballydoyle did something similar back in 2019 with Ten Sovereigns. He was well-gambled that day, starting off at 20/1 and going off 9/2 as the second favourite. I could see something similar happening again here if Aidan O’Brien did go down this path. Therefore, 16/1 does make some appeal.

Royal Scotsman A Sprinter?

The second one is Royal Scotsman for Paul and Oliver Cole. He is a horse who has always been held in high regard by connections, and he was very impressive when he made all at Epsom over a mile earlier in June. The son of Gleneagles has mostly campaigned over a mile since the end of 2022, and he’s not run over sprint trips since he was a juvenile. However, I think it could be worth a try for him to be dropped back in distance, as he has a lot of natural speed. 

The last time he tried 6f, he finished fifth in the Gimcrack Stakes at York, but he had excuses that day. I think under enterprising tactics, he could be a weapon in the sprinting division, and it’s something connections should consider. At 20/1, I think he looks like a big price, and I could see the money coming for him if he were to go down this route.

Overall, I do think Inisherin has a great chance of winning, but there are lots you can make a case for, and I do think River Tiber and Royal Scotsman could be dangerous.

July Cup Ante-Post Selections

River Tiber (16/1)

Royal Scotsman (20/1)

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