Royal Ascot heroes Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain are among 15 sprinters entered for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Golden Horde landed the Commonwealth Cup at last month’s showpiece meeting and is a best priced 3-1 favourite to provide trainer Clive Cox with a third July Cup success, following the triumphs of Golden Horde’s sire Lethal Force (2013) and Harry Angel (2017).
The Kevin Ryan-trained Hello Youmzain recorded a narrow victory in the Diamond Jubilee in Berkshire three weeks ago and will be well fancied by many to follow up on the July Course. Ryan could also saddle stable stalwart Brando.
The Irish challenge is headed by Denis Hogan’s Sceptical, who was only a head and a neck behind Hello Youmzain at the Royal meeting, having won his previous four starts.
Aidan O’Brien is set to rely on Southern Hills to provide him with a third straight win in the race and a record sixth victory overall.
Diamond Jubilee fourth Khaadem and King’s Stand runner-up Equilateral, who will be running for new owner Fitri Hay, could represent Charlie Hills, Richard Hannon’s Threat could drop back in trip after finishing fifth in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Oxted will bid to follow up his win in the Abernant for Roger Teal.
Queen Anne third Marie’s Diamond (Mark Johnston), Judicial (Julie Camacho), Lord Of The Lodge (Karl Burke), German contender Namos (Dominik Moser) Shine So Bright (Andrew Balding) and Sir Dancealot (David Elsworth) are the other hopefuls.
Marie’s Diamond is also entered in the Summer Mile at Ascot and Mike Prince, of Middleham Park Racing explained it will be a late call on where he ends up.
“We thought the mile division was stronger than the sprinting division in general, so we thought we’d have a look at the July Cup,” said Prince.
“He was fourth in a Group One over six at two and won a Group Three over six and a half, but he has been running over further since.
“We just thought we’d have a look and we’re not leaning one way or the other yet, we’ll have a look at the declarations on Thursday.
“It’s a route to explore if we wanted to go down the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Foret route over six and a half and seven furlongs, because the Sussex Stakes for example could be the race of the season with the three-year-olds in, so we might avoid that hot division.
“On the other hand, the Ascot race round a bend should suit so we haven’t decided one way or the other.
“There’s no standout performer in the July Cup. The Ascot winners (Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain) are (rated) 118 and we’re 113, so it might be worth just finding out if he can compete in that division at that level.”