Newmarket July Festival: Day Two Selections

Friday sees the 2024 edition of the July Festival roll into a second day as Newmarket serves up another seven-race feast. The fillies and mares take their turn in the spotlight in the feature event of the Falmouth Stakes, which provides a fascinating clash between two winners from this year’s Royal Ascot meeting. 

Elsewhere on the card, the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes regularly grants an early look at a future Group 1 star, and the bet365 Trophy provides a big target for the stamina-laden handicappers. 

Here, we pick out our best bets in all seven events ahead of what promises to be another cracking day of equine entertainment.

1:50 bet365 Handicap – Heritage Handicap, 1m2f

Handicapping action opens the card in an event restricted to the three-year-olds. With six winners in the past ten years (five for Mark and one for Charlie), the Johnston operation boasts a phenomenal record in this event. Interestingly, Candle Of Dubai is the sole entry from the Charlie Johnston yard this year and is currently the rank outsider of the field at 25/1 with bet365. Trends fans may wish to look no further for an each-way punt. 

From the head of the market, Rebaatt looks dangerous for the always-feared William Haggas, and Godolphin’s Endless Victory should fare better than when stumbling at the start in a Listed contest last time. Royal Power also carries the all-blue silks and ran well in Listed Company last time. He looks a solid favourite at 11/4 with LivesScoreBet but is just passed over in favour of an each-way punt.

The Hughie Morrison-trained Sun God progressed nicely throughout last season, climbing 8lb in the handicap to a mark of 77. Significantly, the pick of his juvenile efforts came when tackling this trip for the first time at Lingfield. Recently making his comeback following a 134-day break, he ran a cracker to go down by just half a length in a similar event on the Rowley Mile. Likely to strip fitter here, the good to soft ground ought to suit, and he won’t need to find much improvement on his first start since a gelding operation.

Recommended Bet: Sun God each way at 16/1 with bet365

1:50 bet365 Handicap – Heritage Handicap, 1m2f

2:25 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2, 6f

Aidan O’Brien landed back-to-back editions of this in 2016 and 2017 and is responsible for this year's favourite, Heaven’s Gate (4/1 with bet365). Third last time out in the Albany Stakes, having done all of the donkey work out in front, she shouldn’t be far away.

Godolphin’s Mountain Breeze was 2¾l back in fourth in that Albany contest and may appreciate this switch to a slower surface, whilst Mighty Eriu won the race on her side of the track in the Queen Mary Stakes (second overall) and is another likely to prove popular on the day.

Tales Of The Heart and Liberalised make some appeal amongst those at double-figure prices, but the one for us is the Adrian Nicholls filly, Maw Lam. Unlucky to finish second in the Hilary Needler Trophy, she again didn’t enjoy the rub of the green when third in the Queen Mary. Starting slowly that day, she had to switch around a wall of horses to obtain a clear run but produced the fastest final furlong of anything in the field to go down by just 2l. On that effort, this step up to 6f should suit, and she can at least hit the frame.

Recommended Bet: Maw Lam each way at 15/2 with BetVictor

3:00 bet365 Trophy – Heritage Handicap, 1m6f

A change in pace for race three as the emphasis switches from speed to stamina. With the ground likely to be good to soft at best and a strong pace all but guaranteed, this looks set to be a thorough test at the distance.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Fox Journey (9/2 with QuinnBet), David Simcock’s Tides Of War (5/1 with bet365), and Bague d’Or (7/1 with bet365) all appeal from towards the head of the market, with preference for the latter, who won with something up his sleeve on his most recent start over this trip. However, we again prefer an each-way option.

The past five editions of this have fallen to either Saeed bin Suroor or the Charlie/Mark Johnston yard. With the Godolphin handler absent from the 2024 edition, we will focus on the Charlie Johnston trio of Artisan Dancer, Knightswood, and Tenerife Sunshine. Artisan Dancer is the biggest price of that trio, but the past five editions have seen runners hit the frame at 100/1, 66/1, and 33/1, and we can’t resist taking a chance at 40/1 with bet365.

Five times a winner on the all-weather – including three times over this trip and beyond – his only previous turf start over this trip saw him finish third off this mark at Thirsk, when doing well to finish as close as he did, having been checked at a crucial stage. He’s little more than a one-dimensional galloper but is fairly handicapped and may find this test to his liking.

Recommended Bet: Artisan Dancer each way at 40/1 with bet365

3:35 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes – Group 1, 1m

Seven go to post in the feature with Porta Fortuna heading the market on the back of her excellent win in the Coronation Stakes. That form is undoubtedly the best recent effort amongst these contenders, but we suspect she may be worth taking on. Firstly, travelling around a bend in that Ascot event allowed her to conserve her potent finishing burst, but there will be no hiding place on this more stamina-sapping straight track. More significantly, we suspect the ground may be against her. Whilst she has won on heavy, that came in a lowly maiden event, and the tacky conditions may blunt her speed in this company.

Running Lion is the pick of the older contenders following her win in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes but failed to land a blow in two previous efforts in Group 1 company, whilst the hattrick-seeking Jabaara may outrun her odds for Roger Varian. However, with only two places to play for, the one to be on is A Lilac Rolla.

Her 2023 win over Opera Singer reads well, whilst we also like the fact that she has won on good and heavy ground, so should handle conditions. Finishing powerfully for second off a slow pace in the Irish 1000 Guineas last time, she can hand the small Paddy Twomey operation a big race success.

Recommended Bet: A Lilac Rolla win at 9/2 with BetVictor

4:10 Weatherbys British EBF Maiden Stakes – Class 3, 7f

The only maiden event on the card up next, with the field evenly split between newcomers and those with at least one run under their belt. 

Charlie Appleby’s Mothecombe looks the most interesting of the debutantes, being by one of the most intriguing new sires, Ghaiyyath, and out of the Group 2 winning mare, Devonshire. However we see this going to one of those with racecourse experience.

Field Of Gold is the obvious one for John & Thady Gosden, having finished a solid third at Doncaster at the back end of June, but, being by Kingman and out of a Shamardal mare, he may not be in love with these conditions. Nevertheless, he seems to start a relatively short price here - hopefully lending a nice each-way shape to the race.

The one to catch our eye is Charlie Johnston’s Thunder Wonder, who ran a race crammed with promise when fourth to the highly regarded Ancient Truth over this course and distance last time. Unable to match strides with the winner close home, he stuck on well despite wandering all over the track as his inexperience told. That came on good to firm ground, and on breeding, we would expect him to improve for the likely slower conditions here.

Recommended Bet: Thunder Wonder each way at Morning Price

Weatherbys British EBF Maiden Stakes – Class 3, 7f

4:45 Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Handicap – Class 3, 7f

A pair of competitive handicaps round out the card, kicking off with this event over the intermediate 7f trip. First run in 2019, the market has generally proved a good guide in this event, with all four previous winners returning an SP of 6/1 or shorter, including winning joint-favourites in the past two editions.

Richard Hannon’s Gisburn shades favouritism (general 11/2) at the time of writing, with the booking of William Buick and a plummeting handicap mark catching the eye. He is, however, zero from over this trip (all wins at 6f), which is enough to make us look elsewhere.

Amongst the outsiders, there may be more to come from the three-year-old Validated, and Sir Winston is becoming nicely handicapped, but the one we like best is the consistent Zouzanna. Hailing from the yard of Harry Charlton, she has run three times over this trip on turf – winning off a mark of 81, being beaten a neck off 83, and going down by a 1½l when missing the break off a mark of 84. Getting in off 83 here, she should go close with the excellent Oisin Murphy in the saddle.

Recommended Bet: Zouzanna to win at 13/2 (generally available)

5:20 Blake-Turner Solicitors Handicap – Class 3, 5f

The action concludes over the fast and furious 5f, with a decent case to be made for a whole host of these.

Course and distance winner Isle Of Lismore is solid at the head of the weights, having finished second in the 2023 edition of this. He’s been running well this season but is 9lb higher this time around, which may make him vulnerable.

Spoof is on a more appealing mark, having dropped below his most recent winning rating, but is nine years old now and seems likely to be tapped for toe unless the heavens open.

It’s harder to knock No Half Measures at the head of the market (general 9/4). Making only his third start in a handicap, he ran a cracker to finish third off this mark in the Palace Of Holyrood Stakes. That came on good to firm, but he ran well in a good to soft Scurry Stakes on his previous start and seems likely to be involved at the finish. The only thing we don’t like is his price.

The value lies with an each-way bet on course and distance winner Above. That success over track and trip came off a mark of 80 in a race run on good to soft in August 2023. He is zero from five this season, but four of those efforts have come over 6f on quick ground. Back down to 5f, on a slower surface, and with a reduced mark of 75, he looks solid each-way material.

Recommended Bet: Above each way at 12/1 (generally available)