Regarded as one of the most prestigious sprint races in the world, Saturday’s July Cup meeting will pit the fastest thoroughbreds in racing against one another as the climax of the July Festival.
As ever, the Haymarket schedule brings in some of racing’s finest prospects as well as some more well-known faces, with Frankie Dettori, set to jockey long outsider Havelock, as well as two-time July Cup winning jockey, Johnny Murtagh.
There’s success among the returning trainers, too, as Aidan O’Brien, three-time winner of the race returns as well as James Fanshawe, who won the event with Frizzante back in 2004.
However, all past credentials will mean little come Saturday afternoon, and we can already take a look at some of those horses one might expect to see leading the chase.
Former stable jockey to the late Henry Cecil, Kieren Fallon again teams up with Society Rock looking to extend the duo’s impressive run of the last nine months or so.
Although it wasn’t the first time the two have raced together, Fallon and Society Rock started their current four-race stint together back at the Haydock Cup in September of last year.
Owner Simon Gibson couldn’t have hoped for a more promising start after winning that sprint, since which Fallon has won once and came second in two of his last three races with the Irish-bred six-year-old.
The pair’s last outing came in the June meeting at Royal Ascot, a race which Fallon was unfortunate to come second in.
As mentioned earlier, trainer James Fanshawe knows what it feels like to taste July Cup victory and will bring some invaluable experience to the fore, although that doesn’t make him any less eager for another triumph.
Considered bookies’ favourite heading into this race, Shea Shea currently has the biggest load of pressure as we look forward to the July Cup, although his form will tell you why.
With four wins and another second-place finish in his last six races, the Darley July Cup would seem there for the taking for trainer Mike de Kock.
However, with seven other Grade 1 winners in the field, the South African will certainly have his work cut out for him in maintaining the lead.
In those aforementioned wins, Shea Shea has looked confident, leading the line well and finishing in strong form, indicated by his current odds at just 7-2.
Ridden by Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, whose last British win was in the 2012 Falmouth Stakes, De Kock will look to add another gem in what’s been a rollercoaster of a season.
Sole Power’s trainer, Edward Lynam, has never won a July Cup, so it’s a good thing the Irishman has doubled his chances by entering his other star sprinter, Slade Power, in the July Cup meet.
Can Shea Shea stand up to the pressure of his favourite tag?
With that being the case, Sole Power stands as the more likely to win of the two, jockeyed by Johnny Murtagh, who won the 2004 edition with Frizzante and once more in 2010 atop Starspangledbanner.
On Saturday, the Irish duo will seek to complete Murtagh’s hat trick of victories at this particular Haymarket extravaganza.
Six-year-old Sole Power has placed in the top four of all of his last five races but has never won in the six attempts had over six furlongs.
That being said, the Express report Paddy Power as labeling the horse as “over-priced” given his more relaxed state of late.