Charlie Appleby, already successful this season in both the Investec Derby (with Masar) and the King’s Stand Stakes (with Blue Point), will be in line to lift another marquee Group 1 contest when he saddles Blue Point in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Saturday, 14th July.
Blue Point was one of 31 horses to stand their ground following yesterday’s (Tuesday) scratching stage for this £500,000 six-furlong event, which is a leg of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
The Darley July Cup goes a long way to deciding who will be crowned Champion Sprinter – each of its last 13 winners have subsequently been rated the top European-trained sprinter in the end-of-season World Thoroughbred Rankings.
It was also the first of Britain’s top sprints to fall to an intercontinental challenger (the Japanese raider, Agnes World, in 2000) and is set to have a serious contender from outside Europe again this year in the shape of Redkirk Warrior, a three-time Group 1 scorer back home in Australia.
The entries feature the race’s last two winners - Harry Angel, who suffered an injury when leaving the stalls in Saturday’s Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, and Limato.
The Darley July Cup is the first chance that the top three-year-old sprinters get to take on older horses at Group 1 level at six furlongs and 17 of the 31 entries represent the Classic generation, including the first two home in last week’s Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali.
With 15 horses still engaged, Aidan O’Brien is the trainer with by far the most entries – apart from him only Sir Michael Stoute, with Eqtidaar and Dream Of Dreams, has more than one representative. O’Brien’s team is spearheaded by the Diamond Jubilee Stakes hero, Merchant Navy, and last year’s Champion Two-Year-Old, U S Navy Flag.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Blue Point, said:
“Blue Point has come out of the King’s Stand Stakes very well and the plan is for him to head straight for the Darley July Cup.”
“He will be stepping back up to six furlongs but a stiff six is well within his compass – he holds the Ascot track record at that trip, don’t forget, and he was placed in a Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs as a two-year-old.”
“To win the Darley July Cup with him would be huge – not just because we sponsor the race, it’s also a great race for making stallions, one of the summer spectacles that you really want to be part of, and one that usually decides who is going to be Champion Sprinter.”
“Winning the King’s Stand was a bigger achievement than some people realise, given what had happened to Blue Point on his two previous visits to a racecourse.”
“He banged his head on the stalls and had a trickle of blood coming out of his nostril so had to be withdrawn at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night and then we got caught out trying to take on the Hong Kong sprinters at their own game. But I am a big believer that horses learn from experiences like that.”
“He’s a very clean-winded horse who did very little between Hong Kong and Ascot so we will stick to the same programme and just try to keep him fresh, happy and well as he doesn’t need to do anything more prior to the Darley July Cup.”