Bravado to repel French

The weather may be unseasonal but other features of the racing calendar are rather more reliable. The certainty, for instance, that five minutes after the winner passes the post in the July Stakes this afternoon, the bookies' reps will distribute risibly short prices about him for next year's 2,000 Guineas.

The weather may be unseasonal but other features of the racing calendar are rather more reliable. The certainty, for instance, that five minutes after the winner passes the post in the July Stakes this afternoon, the bookies' reps will distribute risibly short prices about him for next year's 2,000 Guineas.

Though the first bets on the 2001 Classics went into the ledgers weeks ago, most were from punters who believed themselves blessed with inside information or divine revelation. Only now, as the big yards start to produce their best two-year-olds, do the layers begin to seriously exploit the opportunity to get some mug-money into their books, all of nine months in advance.

Before anyone wades into the fray today, it would pay to remember that the majority of punters were not even born the last time a July Stakes winner went on to land a Classic. That horse was Nimbus, who won the Derby in 1949, while the last winner to follow up with a Group One of any sort was Green Desert, who returned to win the July Cup over track and trip in 1986.

This year's renewal looks up to standard and Noverre in particular is a welcome visitor from France. Like last year's winner, City On A Hill, Noverre is trained by David Loder at Godolphin's juvenile academy at Evry racecourse, and - again, like City On A Hill - he won the Prix la Fleche at Maisons-Lafitte last time out. The main reason it is good to see him running, though, is that he could make the market for Sir Mark Prescott's BRAVADO (nap 2.35).

The first months of the season were a struggle for Prescott, but his yard is now in excellent form, with a strike-rate of 32 per cent. Bravado won by four lengths in a fast time at Doncaster, with the promise of better to come, and by 2.45pm he should be the benchmark against which two-year-olds will be judged in coming weeks.

The Falmouth Stakes pits a single four-year-old, Golden Silca, against a gang of promising juniors, and Danceabout (3.40), who was fifth in the Jersey Stakes at Ascot, can improve to beat her. Kookaburra (next best 3.10), another who ran well at Ascot, will appreciate the step up to 10 furlongs, while Cephalonia (2.05) will go close if returning to the form of her London Gold Cup win.

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