The international focus this weekend is on England, where horse racing switches to the famous Newmarket racecourse, north of London, for the July Cup meeting. Highlighted as England’s premier sprint race, the July Cup take place over the difficult Newmarket straight course, known as the ‘July track’.
Saturday racing continues in Victoria, despite the latest COVID-19 lockdown, with the feature meeting on Saturday taking place at Caulfield racecourse. The main race on a strong program is the Listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m).
In Sydney, the Rosehill meeting sees the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) field run on a traditional winter wet track. It’s the highlight race of the day, but has only attracted a moderate field – as a result, it’s an open betting affair.
Racing in Queensland has moved out of Brisbane, with the ‘metro’ meeting being held on the spacious Sunshine Coast racetrack. It was at this meeting in 2015 that Winx launched her extraordinary unbeaten run of 33 wins when she won the Group 3 Sunshine Guineas (1600m). The race has been renamed the Winx Guineas in her honour.
In the west, at Belmont racecourse, the winter carnival continues with the Listed Beaufine Stakes (1000m).
Melbourne racing focuses its attention on Caulfield racecourse, which was rated a soft 7 on Thursday. With up to 8mm of rain predicted on Saturday, do your Saturday racing form on a track in the soft 7 range. Note the rail is back to its true position after being at 12m at the most recent meeting.
Racing in Sydney is at Rosehill racecourse, which was a soft 6 on Thursday – a big improvement on the heavy ratings of recent Saturday meetings. With not much rain predicted, base your racing form on an improving track; however, we don’t expect it will improve enough to get to a good 4.
Sunshine Coast racecourse has been hit by a fair bit of wet weather and the track was rated a heavy 9 on Thursday, with more rain expected through to Friday morning. A dry Friday and Saturday may improve the track into the soft range, so do your racing form for wet trackers.
South Australia’s main meeting on Saturday is in Gawler. The track is a slow 5 and there is enough rain about for it to hold in the soft range.
In Perth, Belmont racecourse was rated a soft 6 on Thursday morning, but no rain is predicted for the rest of the week. It should improve to a soft 5 or even a good 4.
SIR JOHN MONASH STAKES PREVIEW: VIRIDINE VERSUS THE VETERAN
Quality Sydney sprinter Viridine crosses the heavily manned border to run in the Listed Sir John Monash Stakes. Under the latest COVID-19 regulations, the gelding will have to stay in trainer James Cummings’s Flemington stable for the time being. That’s not a problem, because the Sir John Monash Stakes is the ideal lead-up to the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m), also run at Caulfield, in two weeks’ time.
Damien Oliver has been snapped up for the ride and Viridine comes off a strong, easy win in the Winter Dash on a heavy 9 track at Randwick on 20 June. This looks a perfect race for Viridine.
The wetness of the track will be the best gauge on the chances of the veteran top-weight, Jungle Edge, who, at rising 10, has won 18 races on soft and heavy tracks – the wetter the better for him. Jungle Edge finished two lengths behind Viridine in the Listed June Stakes at Randwick on 6 June but beat him home in the Group 3 McKay Stakes at Morphettville on 2 May (Viridine came fifth). Jungle Edge warmed up for this with a trial win in the heavy ground of Cranbourne on Monday – however, from 13 runs at Caulfield, he has won only once.
Tavisan and Jungle Edge will both set the pace – but it will be interesting to see if jockey Ben Melham allows Jungle Edge to sit on Tavisan. Tavisan runs his best race around a turn and was good winning at Caulfield on 30 May, when he dictated from the front.
I Am Someone also has claims, but Ashlor is better at Moonee Valley.
Sir John Monash Stakes tips: Viridine comes off a good win at Randwick, and if jockey Damien Oliver can park him third or fourth behind a solid pace set by Jungle Edge and Tavisan then it looks to be his race – even if the $2.50 on offer on Thursday morning in Sir John Monash Stakes betting markets is short. The old-stager Jungle Edge is the danger.
WINTER STAKES PREVIEW: LOOK FOR A NOBLE RESULT
It’s not the best Winter Stakes field, but it should be a good betting race. Listed Civic Stakes winner Trumbull is set as the pre-post Winter Stakes betting favourite at $3.90 at the time of writing.
There looks to be some value for punters here. Noble Boy (who is also nominated for the Sunshine Coast) is well in there with a chance, carrying 54kg and starting from a good barrier. The money has been solid for him, suggesting this is the race he’s likely to run in. Noble Boy got home hard late when third behind True Detective over 1300m at Rosehill on 13 June and has since had a soft trial at Warwick Farm. The soft track will suit him better and it’s hard not to see him in the finish.
Sikandarabad is having his first run for returning trainer Sam Kavanagh after being bought from the Lindsay Park stable in Victoria. He had a soft trial at Muswellbrook but he’s more than capable of winning this and looks to be well over the odds at $23 on Thursday morning.
Trumbull beat Order Again in the Civic Stakes, but Order Again is the more reliable horse and has a pattern of getting home late.
Winter Stakes tips: There’s enough in this market to be able to back three – Noble Boy to beat Order Again, with a long-shot chance in Sikandarabad.
WINX GUINEAS PREVIEW: WINX IN NAME ONLY AT THE SUNSHINE COAST
The Winx Guineas (1600m) at the Sunshine Coast has attracted a moderate race field thanks to pandemic affecting the participation of interstate and New Zealand horses.
This opens the race up for a horse like Maozi to win her first feature race for trainers Toby and Trent Edmonds. The filly charged late when third behind Shijin over 1350m at Doomben on 20 June and she’s crying out for this extra distance on a bigger track. Barrier 12 won’t bother her because she will drop back, but the lack of defined pace in this race is a worry.
Star Of Michelin is the best horse in the race and comes off a big-finish win over 1400m at Eagle Farm on 4 July.
Smart Meteor looks to be over the odds at $21 (at the time of writing) – he has been freshened up from racing over longer distances. If you go back four starts, you’ll find he finished fifth behind the star filly Vanna Girl at Doomben (1615m) on 9 May. The Weekend in Racing won’t be surprised if he runs a big race.
Knight Mariner, trained by Tony Golan, is lightly raced and might be the horse that uses this race to make an impact. He’s well-bred and has a solid form line.
Winx Guineas Tips: Not an easy race to decipher, but Maozi is ready to win at her first try at 1600m. Happy to save on the two well-performed geldings Star Of Michelin and Smart Meteor, and the promising Knight Mariner.
JULY CUP PREVIEW: GOLDEN DAYS FOR GOLDEN HORNE
The Group 1 July Cup holds special interest for Australians, as it’s a race in which our sprinters have often competed – Starspangledbanner won it in 2010.
The Weekend in Racing tipped Golden Horne to win the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (1200m) at Royal Ascot and he didn’t let us down. He looks the ideal type for the tricky uphill Newmarket course.
Trainer Clive Cox has won the July Cup twice before with Lethal Force (Golden Horne’s sire) in 2013 and Harry Angel in 2017. Cox has told the English media that he rates Golden Horne in the same category as those two stars. Importantly, Golden Horne went into the Royal Ascot race without a lead-up race due to the COVID-19 enforced delay to the start of UK racing, and Cox is confident the colt is fitter for this assignment.
Those punters looking for July Cup betting value might consider Threat – trainer Richard Hannon has decided to run him at Newmarket rather than ship him to France for the Prix Jean Prat, over 1400m. Threat drops back from 1600m at Royal Ascot, where he was fifth in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes behind Palace Pier. He has the strength to finish over the top of them in the July Cup.
Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride Sceptical, which has resulted in him firming from $7.50 to $3.75 in July Cup betting market as of Thursday morning
Diamond Jubilee winner Hello Youmzain and Khaadem have the class to be in the finish.
July Cup tips: Golden Horne to continue his winning run, but we’ll certainly have a saver on Threat.
CAULFIELD TIPS AND SCHEDULE
All Over Bosanova (trainer Grahame Begg)
All Over Bosanova is a handy mare that has been racing in open handicaps and holding her own against good sprinters such as Prezado and Ashlor. She drops back to a BM90 and gets a 2kg claim for Teo Nugent, which means she will carry 60kg. She has good speed and should settle in a nice position, especially with the addition of blinkers for the first time. She’s at Take It To The Neds odds that you can bet each way.
Superhard (trainer Lindsey Smith)
In Jamie we trust. Superhard is not the most reliable horse, but he’s very good on his day. Trainer Lindsay Smith has booked Jamie Kah to ride the moody gelding and it’s a perfect choice. Superhard likes to do his own thing and Kah is a beautiful rider who should get him comfortable and happy. If he runs to his Wangoom Handicap second behind Order Of Command on 6 May, he will win.
ROSEHILL TIPS AND SCHEDULE
Fulmina (trainers Mark Newnham)
This looks an ideal race for this promising filly, who beat the fillies and mares over 1800m at this track (heavy 8) on 27 June. It was a powerful win with Rachel King in the saddle – she rides Fulmina again. Fulmina continues to build her profile and she should go on to win better races than this.
Varda (trainer James Cummings)
Varda resumed with a dominant five-lengths-all-the-way win at Canterbury (1100m) on 24 June on heavy ground. It was her first run since the Melbourne Cup week carnival at Flemington, when she came home hard for fourth behind Garner over 1000m. Don’t expect Varda to lead this time – but she doesn’t have to, because there is a heap of speed in this race. From barrier 10, it’s unlikely she will participate in a battle for the front – jockey Jason Collett should be able to sit back off the speed and get her over the top of the patient leaders.
SUNSHINE COAST TIPS AND SCHEDULE
Special Missile (trainers Richard and Michael Freedman)
Special Missile comes from Sydney with seemingly moderate form, but the Freedmans wouldn’t send him for this feature race if he wasn’t near back to his best. He likes wet tracks and will get a nice run coming across to lead with Deep Image on his inside. This pair might be able to fight this out. Special Missile has been heavily backed from $9.50 into $7.00 on Thursday morning. Happy to follow the Freedmans’ judgement and the money!
BELMONT TIPS AND SCHEDULE
Samizdat (trainers Chris Gamgemi) and Essential Spice (trainers Daniel and Ben Pearce)
This is one of the premier winter sprints in Perth and it has attracted a strong, open race field. The Weekend in Racing is happy to back two horses in this – the quality sprinter Samizdat and the up-and-comer Essential Spice.
Samizdat has won three of his four first-up starts and comes into this race off a fifth behind Regal Power in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot in November. Before that he won the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) at Ascot. He handles soft tracks well and trialled nicely for this. Essential Spice was surprisingly beaten at Belmont on 27 June when odds-on favourite. Willie Pike rides and she will be a lot fitter. Back them both for a profit.