Racing: Wolfhound waiting to hunt down July Cup favourites

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The Independent Online
PUNTERS arriving at Newmarket for this week's July Cup meeting will find themselves facing an old enemy. Great hordes of evil bloodsuckers will be waiting for them, intent on bleeding them dry, and if they are not careful they are likely to get very badly stung. In fact, once the course's notorious swarms of mosquitoes and wasps have been negotiated, the bookies will seem positively welcoming, writes Greg Wood.

Do not be deceived. Anyone still standing after the first two days will discover that Thursday's July Cup is a fiendish contest. When Ladbrokes opened a book last week, many were surprised that they rated Sheikh Albadou, the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, only the second favourite behind Shalford. He soon joined Shalford at the head of the market at 5-2, but when that firm seems to be offering over the odds, smart backers ask themselves why.

This is certainly not a two-horse race, since Sheikh Albadou is still being wound up gently with a view to repeating his highly remunerative success in the States come November, while Shalford looked impressive when winning at Royal Ascot last time when the second horse home was Amigo Menor, an upstart handicapper.

Since Elbio stubbornly refuses to be as good at six furlongs as he is at five, Wolfhound makes most appeal at current odds of 6-1. Wolfhound was outpaced for 80 per cent of the race behind Sheikh Albadou at Royal Ascot last time, but ended up running on exceptionally well into fourth. Thursday's extra furlong should make all the difference.

Fortune did not exactly smile on Amirati in the Royal meeting's Queen Mary Stakes, as one of her shoes dropped off just yards into the race and effectively put an end to her chance. While even her dad would blush to suggest that she might have troubled Lyric Fantasy, she can be expected to redeem herself somewhat in the Cherry Hinton Stakes (3.05) on Tuesday. State Dancer (4.45) should also hit the mark.

The July Stakes (4.10) on Wednesday is a well-known graveyard for early-season juveniles whose peers are beginning to get the hang of things. High Tycoon makes his Pattern race debut here, and anyone who witnessed his success at Ascot last time, when the only worry was that his jockey, Lanfranco Dettori, was laughing so much that he was in danger of falling off, will be inclined to expect a successful one. Double him up with Duke Of Eurolink (3.10), if you must.

Superoo (4.10) was well backed to win the Bunbury Cup last year but just failed to peg back Savoyard after a difficult run. Optimists may be digging out 12-month-old betting slips after Thursday's renewal.