Aljamaaheer well placed to plunder July spoils
Slade Power is a worthy favourite as he bids to become the fourth horse in 10 years to complete the Diamond Jubilee-July Cup double at Newmarket this afternoon.
Les Arcs (2006), Starspangledbanner (2010) and last year's winner Lethal Force all triumphed in the six-furlong Group One at Royal Ascot before following up in the Darley-sponsored version on the July course.
Eddie Lynam's rapidly progressing five-year-old was as big as 5/2 to emulate them last night, and it would be a surprise if those odds don't contract further this morning.
Slade Power's record since his third to Lethal Force here in 2013 is fantastic. He ran second to Gordon Lord Byron in the Sprint Cup, won the Group Two on Champions Day at Ascot, a Group Three in deep ground on his Curragh return and then he went on to achieve glory at the royal fixture.
The only blemish over the past few months was in the Hong Kong Sprint in December when little went right.
Today, as one of the few with a confirmed ability to handle – if not excel – on the rain-softened Newmarket turf, Slade Power could again prove very hard to beat under Wayne Lordan.
Lynam yesterday suggested his other crack sprinter Sole Power might still run although the fast-ground, five-furlong specialist will surely struggle in the going.
That leaves Due Diligence as the other main cross-channel contender for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien.
Twice a winner on slow ground at Naas after arriving from America, Due Diligence ran an honest second in the Jubilee when he got tightened up late on.
If he copes with this deep ground, he is a three-year-old with scope to improve, and his odds look just about right at as much as 8/1.
Noozhoh Canarias, a pacey Spanish runner that led into the final furlong of what was an exceptional 2,000 Guineas, is another interesting runner now that it drops back in trip, but the ground is a slight worry for him.
The two that have most appeal against the field are Gregorian and Aljamaaheer.
Gregorian is stepping down in trip and up in class for John Gosden. However, he relishes plenty cut, and the decisive way he won here over seven recently would suggest that odds of around 16/1 are too big about a horse that is going the right way and will excel in the ground.
Aljamaaheer is also heading in the right direction. Roger Varian's five-year-old is gradually getting the hang of sprinting after showing Group One form at a mile last year, but he just lacked the early pace in the Jubilee, when he found himself last early on before finally running on strongly for third.
The key here will be whether he handles the testing ground or not. If he does – and sons of Dubawi generally do – then few will come home as strongly, and it is worth noting that there is a high draw bias on the July course when the ground is deep, as was the case when Dream Ahead triumphed in 2011.
As such, Aljamaaheer's draw in stall 15, two up from Slade Power, could prove especially favourable, so he appeals as the best win option at around 8/1 under the in-form Paul Hanagan.
The two other horses that are of interest today are on duty at York. In the 55th John Smith's Cup, Nabucco looks overpriced at up to 12/1, having run well to be third in a decent Listed race at Goodwood.
The winner French Navy has since readily won a Group Three and the second Windhoek has scored in Listed company.
Both were receiving weight from Nabucco and had the advantage of race-fitness over him, so it was a cracking effort from Gosden's Dansili five-year-old.
On its last two outings on soft ground last year, Nabucco hacked up in a Salisbury handicap off 100 and followed up in a Sandown Listed race. He is ground versatile, ideally suited by this 10-furlong trip, and gets in off a favourable mark of 102 when you factor in his rider's 7lb claim.
Monsieur Joe is worth a venture in the five-furlong sprint. Kingsgate Native will be hard to beat in this, but, on a line through Extortionist, which was just in front of Monsieur Joe in a Curragh Group Three prior to beating Kingsgate at Sandown, the Tom Queally-ridden Monsieur Joe has a life.
The Grey Gatsby looks all set to try 12 furlongs in tomorrow's Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, with the strong-finishing Prix du Jockey Club third Prince Gibraltar favourite to turn the tables this time.
He is entitled to head the market as Kevin Ryan's classy grey doesn't appeal as a mile-and-a-half prospect at this stage, but it is Guardini that might be worth a speculative venture at odds of 6/1.
The Dalakhani colt is trained in Germany by Jean-Pierre Carvalho, but last week's facile Derby hero Sea The Moon was the latest in a line of German horses that have shown over the past few years how the country's Flat stock has risen.
While Guardini was denied by a head on his seasonal bow over tomorrow's course and distance, he then thrashed the re-opposing Pascal Bary-trained Teletext – unbeaten at the time – at Chantilly in June.
That confirmed that he has serious potential at this trip, so he will be no forlorn hope under Olivier Peslier now.