Good to firm ground at Newmarket for today’s July Cup one of the highlights of the midsummer flat season.

In the 7f fillies’ handicap I hope to see Al Saariyah (2.05) go one better than when runner up at Haydock last time on his first start at today’s trip. Silvestre De Sousa takes over in the saddle on the filly for the first time since they finished runner up to subsequent Group 1 winner Alcohol Free back in August. Note the winner was due to contest the Falmouth Stakes here on Friday. The ew recommendation is 16/1 with Boylesports 4 places.

The big betting race of the day at Newmarket is the Bunbury Cup and Perotto must have every chance of following up his Britannia Stakes win at Royal Ascot from just a 2lbs higher mark. He is short enough in the betting at 5/1, however, and can often compromise his chance with a slow start. He will need luck in running if getting behind today.

The each way vote goes to Jumaira Bay (3.50) who broke the track record when scoring at Chelmsford last time and has bits of form on fast ground which suggest he could still be well treated despite having to carry a 6lbs penalty. The selection is 8s with 10Bet 6 places.

The July Cup is wide open and Starman has long been my fancy for the race, but he is short enough in the betting for such a wide-open contest and the each way vote goes to Supremacy (4.25) for the back to form Clive Cox.

The ew selection – 16s with MansionBet – was pulled out of the Commonwealth Cup on account of the heavy ground last month and finished last of eight behind the admirable Rohaan – who reopposes today – at Ascot on his reappearance.

That was at a time when the Cox stable were largely put of sorts, however, and the selection is taken to return to the form that saw him land the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile last autumn. The each way recommendation is 16/1.

I do not want to see too much rain at Ascot where I hope to see Dhushan (4.45) follow up his latest Musselburgh success from a 7lbs higher mark. The selection – 11/4 with William Hill – spread a plate and had to be withdrawn at the start at Haydock last weekend when market leader for a valuable handicap over 1m 6f. Today’s drop back in trip is not a concern.

Few horses have impressed me as much as Spanish Kiss (2.25) so far this term and he can land his hat-trick in the 14f handicap. William Knight’s progressive stayer has been raised a total of 17lbs for two bloodless wins at York and Newmarket, but he could still be ahead of his current mark.

He is currently 20/1 for the Ebor at York next month but will need to win another race to get into that competitive heat. Buriram refused to settle at Salisbury last time but would be a danger to the selection if more amenable to restraint. That said I will be disappointed if Spanish Kiss – 11/8 from 2s with BetVictor – does not enhance his Ebor claims.   

Astro King nearly did us a big favour at Royal Ascot in the Hunt Cup, but he is short enough in the betting for the John Smith’s Cup at York for one who must prove his stamina for today’s extended 10f trip.

Each way vote goes to Good Birthday (4.05) who should appreciate the forecast good to soft ground more than the fast ground he encountered at Newmarket last time. Trainer Andrew Balding has a couple in the race and he has booked talented 7lbs claimer Callum Hutchinson for the ride. The 28/1 available with William Hill 5 places – looks fair given the form of his Zetland Gold Cup win on his penultimate start is beginning to look a strong piece of form.

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