Sunday 21 January 2018

Caravaggio set to justify O'Brien's faith

'Fastest he's trained' meets older brigade in July Cup sizzler

Clemmie, with Ryan Moore up (blue/orange) on the way to winning The Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Clemmie, with Ryan Moore up (blue/orange) on the way to winning The Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

Her retirement has prompted thoughts about who Minding's first one-day stand would be with.

When will she be covered - this year or next? More intriguingly, who will be the chosen lover?

Found, which - like Minding - was retired (albeit much later in the campaign) as a four-year-old, had a dalliance with War Front, but that stallion still has a pretty patchy reputation in Europe.

Minding may find a lover in Caravaggio sooner or later - it seems quite likely - and there is no getting away from the pressure on everyone concerned that today's Darley July Cup favourite retires as he is now, six races hence: unbeaten.

His allure as a sire has only grown, since his father Scat Daddy has become something of a posthumous sensation. Aidan O'Brien has furthered the hype, whether he wanted to or not, by how he has talked up the young horse.

As far back as last August, he commented: "In his last piece of work he hit a top speed of 45 miles per hour; no horse in Ballydoyle has ever been able to do that."

He made similar remarks this year; in any event the evidence is that Caravaggio has trained on. He can take today's feature under Ryan Moore, a race at Newmarket that has gripped the racing public in the past week.

O'Brien has been quite measured in his comments about the grey of late, yet the palpable relief he embodied just after Caravaggio won the Commonwealth Cup - as televised by ITV - was telling. It is a race that has been winnable for three-year-olds, which took three of the past ten renewals, and the presence of last year's winner Limato means we should know what Caravaggio is capable of.

The July Cup ends a bumper day of TV coverage, with ten races on ITV, commencing with York's John Smith's Racing Handicap. A chance is taken on Twin Appeal, while Barsanti, a superb second to Idaho at Royal Ascot, is difficult to oppose in the Silver Cup Stakes for Roger Varian.

There's a huge purse for the 58th John Smith's Cup, in which the Mount Nelson-bred Majeed has claims. The seven-year-old should appreciate stepping back to 12 furlongs after just failing to score in the Wolferton.

The City Walls Stakes is the last race shown at York and this dash looks a nice opportunity for previous winner, the veteran Take Cover. However, Goldream is preferred for Robert Cowell.

At Ascot, the totescoop6 Heritage Handicap is a minefield. There is no getting away from how unfortunate Orion's Bow seemed at Newcastle and he can make amends for Tim Easterby.

Also in Berkshire, the Group Two Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes is a cracker, and Mutakayyef is the lock of the card dropping back to this type of class for Willie Haggas.

Back to Newmarket, and City Of Joy makes plenty of appeal in the bet365 Mile Handicap. Luckless in the Britannia, the upside is Michael Stoute's charge's unchanged mark, while in the Bunbury Cup, chance Mick Easterby's Holiday Magic at a massive price. If things fall into place, he is capable of a big run.

Finally, O'Brien can warm up for Caravaggio's toughest task yet by welcoming Gustav Klimt back to the winner's circle after the Superlative Stakes. Then, it is time for speed, and time for the walking of the walk.

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