Horse Racing This Week – 16th to 22nd July 2018

We may be well into the meat of the flat racing season now, but there’s still plenty left to savour, including on the Classic front. Irish Oaks day at the Curragh is the headline act this coming Saturday as a number of the main protagonists from Epsom look set to lock horns once again.

Back on home turf the pick of the action comes at Newbury, which offers quality as well as variety on its seven race Saturday card.

Irish Oaks Day At The Curagh

This prize fell to the Epsom Oaks winner last year as the brilliant Enable doubled up with the minimum of fuss. Bidding to follow in her hoofprints in 2018 is this year’s Oaks heroine, Forever Together. So impressive was she at Epsom that had she not since been beaten in the 1m2f Pretty Polly Stakes three weeks ago, she would likely be starting a pretty warm order for the Irish Oaks on Saturday. Perhaps this step back up in trip will allow her to put her best foot forward once again.

She may well be a Classic winner, but Forever Together seems unlikely to be the Aidan O’Brien first string headed into this contest, with that honour looking set to belong to Magic Wand. This filly was actually also the choice of Ryan Moore at Epsom, only to fail to land a blow on Forever Together, eventually trailing home an eleven length fourth.

She was however brilliant in the Ribblesdale last time out when slamming the field – including Oaks runner up, Wild Illusion – by a resounding four lengths. She’s the current 11/4 favourite for this race with Coral, and on the back of that performance, she probably deserves to be.

Dangers abound though, including the aforementioned Forever Together, William Haggas’s highly promising Sea Of Class, French Oaks winner, Laurens, and – most intriguingly of all – John Gosden’s unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar.

Super Sprint Day At Newbury

The big event of the day down in Newbury is one of the more unusual of the Saturday racing centre-pieces. Providing perhaps the ultimate test of whether owners have got what they have paid for when it comes to their equine purchases, the weights for the Weatherbys Super Sprint are determined not by handicap ratings, but by the sale price of each of the contenders. The more a horse cost, the more weight it must carry.

Certain owners and trainers do seem adept at identifying a bargain at the sales, and in recent years no one has proven shrewder than Richard Fahey; the Yorkshireman having claimed three of the past five editions. We fancy More Than Likely may indeed be the most likely of Fahey’s six entries this year.

For those who prefer their sprinting action of the Group class variety, we look to have a high-quality field assembling for the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes which is the undoubted highlight of the undercard.

Touted as the fasted thing since the Concorde prior to the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Charles Hills Equilateral could never land a blow in that event. Was that just a bad day at the office, or a conclusive bursting of his bubble? We may well be able to answer that question after this race. Amongst the opposition is the highly talented Invincible Army who skipped last weeks July Cup and won’t have as much on his plate here.


O’Brien Flies The Flag At HQ

Looking back at the weekends action, the big Group 1 contest came on the concluding day of Newmarket’s July meeting as the speedsters lined up for the Darley July Cup. Many of the main protagonists were there, with the winners of the King’s Stand Stakes and Commonwealth Cup, as well as a number of the prominent finishers from the Diamond Jubilee all featuring in the line-up.

In the end though the prize fell to a horse who hadn’t even run over a sprint trip since September. Last years Champion Juvenile, U S Navy Flag, had been sent down the Classic route by Aidan O’Brien this season, but having failed to get his nose in front in the Irish and French 2000 Guineas, as well as disappointing in the St . James’s Palace Stakes, it was back to Plan A for this son of War Front. Three times a winner at this distance, including in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes last term, it seems that this one is a sprinter after all. Too quick for the rest from the moment the stalls opened, he never once looked like being caught and was powering right away at the line under Ryan Moore.