Brendan Duke: Brando can steal the show in Newmarket’s July Cup

Brendan looks back at last weekend and gives us his thoughts on two big races from Newmarket this week, where a couple of runners offer each-way value...


Despite the unfortunate late withdrawal of Masar the Eclipse produced a stirring finish. My predictions went out the window with Saxon Warrior running hard to finish second just a week after his Curragh disappointment. Happily ran less than happily though, and was thoroughly beaten. Connections of the first two should be rightly proud of their efforts.

Roaring Lion was something of a wayward talent last season and that trend continued into the early stages of the current one. Experience forged in the furnace of racing at the highest level has clearly toughened him up.

He has now won a Dante and an Eclipse either side of a solid effort in the Derby, where stamina limitations were probably exposed. Saxon Warrior showed plenty of heart to back up so well. His optimum trip is still something of a mystery but Saturday’s effort will have left breeders in little doubt about his fortitude. While the 3-year-olds dominated, the suspicion remains that when the older horse brigade replaces the forest rangers with the marines the current classic crop will be exposed as a below average one.

Get out of the stalls first with

Newmarket takes centre stage this week. The July course will be bathed in sunshine and the attendees are set to enjoy some top class action along with their Pimm’s on the lawn.

It’s highly competitive fare and bets aren’t leaping off the page, but I’ve rootled out a couple at prices that look a bit of value.

The meeting kicks off on Thursday with the Bahrain Trophy. Plenty of interesting contenders among the 8 runners. First Eleven was an unlucky loser at Royal Ascot. Loxley is clearly well regarded by Charlie Appleby. Guissepe Garibaldi has been busy of late but runners from his stable usually thrive on a heavy workload. Wells Farhh Go can’t be dismissed either.

At the same time all have something to prove and the 8 runners makes an each-way stab at a double-figure price appealing.

Berkshire Blue comes here on the back of an 11-length victory in a minor race at Wolverhampton. This obviously represents a big step up but the signs suggest he can cope.

Trainer Andrew Balding could have gone down the handicap route but seems to hold this colt in high regard. He went off a big price on debut but must have come alive in the interim as he was hammered in the betting at Wolverhampton.

The fact that he’s pitched straight into stakes company suggests he has progressed since. There isn’t much obvious pace in this race. He disputed the lead last time and could enjoy a tactical edge here. The 14/1 offered by Paddy seems a bit big to me and he looks a good each-way bet.

The July Cup on Saturday is the meeting highlight. Blue Point is a worthy favourite and much respected. There is value against him though as I’m not gone on the Commonwealth Cup form and U S Navy Flag looks a short price.

Brando interests me. He was 3rd in last year’s renewal. That will probably prove a better race than this one. He has a good record at both Newmarket tracks. His victory over Sir Dancealot on seasonal debut reads well and there was no shame in losing to Harry Angel at York even in receipt of 5lbs.

He disappointed at the Curragh behind Merchant Navy but that run can be forgiven. Brando has issues with his knees and three runs in five weeks may have been a step too far.

Having bypassed Ascot, he will run on Saturday off the back of a 50 day break. Again, he’s 14/1 but it may be worth waiting until the final declarations to back him. This race should attract a big field and it would be no surprise were Paddy to offer an extra place. If they do he would rate a knocking each-way bet but I will be backing him either way.

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What do you think?