July Festival Week Preview

We were delighted with Loving Things’ third place finish in the Group 2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock last Saturday. She showed that she is a very tough and genuine filly as she battled all the way to the line under a good ride from Martin Lane. It is also pleasing for Loving Things’ owner Normandie Stud to have a filly who has now won a Listed race and finished placed in a Group 2 as she will be a worthy addition to their broodmare stock when the time comes. However, in the meantime, there are more races to look forward to and we could aim towards the Group 3 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Give Thanks Stakes at Cork on August 2nd next or something similar.

We very much hope it was the soft ground that contributed towards the below par run from Stanley in the mile and a half maiden at Doncaster last Friday. His jockey, Adam Kirby, reported that he travelled well but then floundered when let down on the ground. The going was particularly bad, and completely different to when he made his encouraging debut, so we have got to ignore this performance and go again on a faster surface. Stanley’s half-brother Nigel won recently on good to firm ground, while his dam Deirdre did win her maiden on good to soft going but was then kept to quicker conditions, as were most of her siblings. Going in to the race we were unsure whether Stanley would handle the conditions and we had hoped that he would follow some of Sea The Stars’ progeny that like the surface, but it seems he takes after his dam’s side. He is obviously better than he showed here.

Fittocks Stud’s Laurence has a slight drop back in distance to nine furlongs at Yarmouth on Wednesday but the trip is neither here nor there at this stage as we just want to see more of his old sparkle on the racecourse. He has been working well at home so it is a bit of a mystery why he has checked out so tamely in his two runs so far this season. We are just hoping that something clicks and he can get back on the right track. We have secured the services of Australian jockey James McDonald who has ridden once for us before on Mobaco in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot in 2013. James is Godolphin’s retained rider in his native Australia and partnered our old friend Havana Cooler to Group 3 success over seven and a half furlong at Rosehill in March. We are hoping he gets on with Laurence just as well.

Royal Mahogany runs at Bath on Wednesday evening but it could be his last race for us as he is entered in this week’s July Sales at Tattersalls, along with Al Khafji, Silk Suit and the unraced filly Kiss.

Merry Fox Stud’s Second Step will bid to go one place better than last year in the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes on the first day of Newmarket’s July Festival on Thursday. He will have a new jockey in Frankie Dettori as both his regular riders, Andrea Atzeni and Jamie Spencer, are already engaged in the race and we are sure Frankie will give him a very good ride. Second Step seems in very good form and we would have to be hopeful of another bold show considering the ground should suit him as it will probably be good, good to firm in places by Thursday. He should also get a more even gallop to chase than he did in the Coronation Cup last time.

Materialistic and two year old Dubara also hold entries on Thursday but neither will run, with the latter pencilled in to step up to seven furlongs in a fillies maiden at Newmarket on Saturday instead. Hunter, Moulton and Ramsden’s Al will not go to Doncaster on Thursday because of the soft ground but holds and entry at Newmarket on Saturday and looks set to run there instead. We will see how he fares back over a mile and a half before deciding whether to try him over a mile and three quarters again. As we have alluded to before, Al is a horse who winters very badly and it then takes him a long time to come to himself when the weather gets warmer.

Mr Leonidas Marinopoulos’ recent winner Diamond Geyser bids to follow up at Newbury on Thursday having finally secured the services of Andrea Azteni. Booking jockeys is a big problem at this time of year especially this week in particular. It is ridiculous that we have six Flat cards in Britain on Saturday (as well as six the day before) including the July Cup at Newmarket, the Summer Mile at Ascot and the John Smith’s Cup at York. It is disappointing that the talk of moving the July Cup back to its original mid-week slot seems to have fizzled out. As for Diamond Geyser; a 6 lb rise for his Lingfield success looks fair and he will be suited by the extra furlong at Newbury and we will obviously be hopeful of another bold show provided the ground is no worse than good. We currently have the same jockey problems with Shakopee at York and War Story at Ascot, both on Friday, and the former, in particular, is a horse that needs a good rider given he can race rather freely.

The Duke of Devonshire’s Bess of Hardwick is another who did not winter particularly well but now appears to be back on song and she is entered in a fillies’ handicap at Ascot on Friday. She will probably need the run considering the amount of time she has had off, but it will be good to see her back on course and hopefully she can build on whatever she does. A mark of 87 is certainly workable and she is a good long term prospect.

With Andrea Atzeni, who won on Banksea on his previous start, at York on Friday we have managed to book Ryan Moore for Banksea in a valuable handicap at Newmarket. It will clearly be harder for Banksea off a 7 lb higher mark than when winning last time and back against his own age category. However, he is progressing well and his attitude should continue to stand him in good stead.

Fittocks’s Stud’s Bermondsey is entered in the John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday but may not get (he is currently 32nd on a list for a race which usually features a field in the high teen) so we have made a backup entry at Ascot the same afternoon.

Finally, we would like to give our very best wishes to Kieren Fallon who announced his retirement on Monday. We enjoyed some good times together including Falbrav’s win in the 2003 Prix d’Ispahan and Afsare’s win in the 2010 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. We are sure he can overcome his illness just as he has overcome other of hurdles during his life.