Two lakes and two Geoffs should dominate the July Cup at Newmarket this afternoon. The bookmakers believe the sprint championship lies between Lake Coniston (trained by Geoff Lewis), Heart Lake (Saeed Bin Suroor) and Owington (Geoff Wragg).
Lake Coniston is the solid favourite despite breaking his unbeaten sequence at Royal Ascot last month in the Cork and Orrery Stakes. That day the four-year-old made a Robinson Crusoe of himself on the stands' side, allowing So Factual to creep home in front of the heath-enclosure habitues. The weight terms today suggest Lake Coniston will reverse the form, even if he is to be partnered by Pat Eddery, who is becoming as accident-prone as Frank Spencer.
So Factual, however, is not the principal aspirant of the Godolphin team, who also send out Heart Lake. The latter was 14-1 earlier in the week until punters were informed that he would be the vehicle for Lanfranco Dettori, after which his odds plummeted to 4- 1.
The Nureyev colt's main form credential is the Yasuda Kinen, the Japanese race he won earlier this season in the hands of another bete noire of recent times, Yutaka Take. That event, though, was over a mile and Heart Lake, like another fancied runner today, Richard Hannon's Sergeyev, may find this journey on the sharp side.
Six furlongs, however, is ideal for both Owington, last year's winner, and Fard, who is the best each-way prospect. The former's greatest moment 12 months ago was also a debilitating exercise as it saddled him with a Group One penalty for subsequent excursions. Now that he has no concessions to make, Owington (3.40) appears the likeliest winner.
Royal Ascot form will also be examined in the card's opener. The winning effort of Tagula yesterday suggests that Dovebrace (next best 2.05), who was a place behind in the Coventry Stakes in Berkshire, will be difficult to stop.
The Bahrain Trophy produced a horse who went on to become St Leger favourite in Red Route last year. That will not happen again. Of five uninspiring candidates that show up for business today the most reliable may be Juyush (2.35), who was a revelation when stepped up to a longer distance at Ascot.
Evidence that the Maktoums are running out of names for their vast string is available in the following handicap, in which Atlaal, a name also given to one of their former flagbearers who is now a veteran chaser, appears. He is not without a chance, but preference should be given to Nordinex (3.05), who should reverse course-and-distance form with Twilight Patrol.
The Bunbury Cup is memorable for being both consistently tricky and also a prize that was captured last year by a man who is now between jobs, Lester Piggott. This season it could go to a stable that has received the feverish attention that the great man commands, that of Lady Herries. Celtic Swing's trainer has sound prospects here with ELFLAND (nap 4.10).Reuse content