July Cup memories package
Friday 13 July 2012
By Geoffrey Riddle
The Group One July Cup has produced the European champion sprinter 25 times in the past 35 years.
Since the World Thoroughbred Rankings were introduced in 1977 and Gentilhombre became the highest-rated winner of the contest at 133, the July Cup has regularly produced the best sprinter.
This season, much like in days gone by, Power and Strong Suit are to take the step down from a mile to prove their worth as sprinters. Unlike Green Desert, Ajdal, Soviet Star, Cadeaux Genereux and Royal Academy, however, those two look below the top grade.
Both of the Group One sprints this year at Royal Ascot were won by foreign raiders; Little Bridge the King’s Stand Stakes and Black Caviar the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but European sprinters have proved adept at repelling the international brigade along the July Course.
Since Agnes World struck for the international contingent in 2000, there have been a whole host of foreign raiders to have failed, and for all their brilliance Australian horses simply have not cut the mustard at Headquarters.
This year Ortensia and Krypton Factor lead the foreign charge, while the likes of Soul and Sepoy bid to duck the radar by turning out for Godolphin, having been trained in Australia last season.
Below we bring you our July Cup archive stretching back to 1976. We hope you enjoy it.
(App readers should go to the video section to watch all four parts of our unbeatable memories package)
July Cup memories: 1976-86
The late seventies and early eighties were dominated by Lester Piggott. The ‘Long Fellow’ teamed up with Vincent O’Brien in 1973 with Thatch, and followed up with Saritamer 12 months later.
Piggott carried his form over into the next decade, swooping to take the spoils with Moorstyle in 1980, for a hat-trick of wins having won on Thatching and Solinus.
The next five winners, Marwell (1981) Sharpo (1982), Habibti (1983) Chief Singer (1984) and Never So Bold (1985) were all rated the top sprinter of their year.
Green Desert was one of several victors who used the July Cup to advertise his ability over shorter trips, having previously found only Dancing Brave too good in the 2,000 Guineas.
July Cup memories: 1987-1994
Ajdal is one of the best winners of the July Cup in the past 25 years. After disappointing in the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and a ninth place in the Derby at Epsom he was sent off the 9-2 third favourite behind odds-on chance Bluebird.
After winning the sprint by a head, he went on to win what is now known as the Nunthorpe and the Haydock Sprint Cup and is rated alongside the likes of Lake Coniston (1995), Anabaa (1996) and Stravinsky (1999).
The last two winners in the 1980s, Soviet Star and Cadeaux Genereux, were also crowned top European sprinter. Cadeaux Genereux’s effort was particularly noteworthy after he beat Golden Opinion, the Coronation Stakes victor, by a head and Danehill, the subsequent successful sire, by another two and a half lengths.
Royal Academy was one of the most versatile winners of the July Cup, having added to his victory on the July Course with a success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Belmont Park. His win was something of a landmark because since he was rated at 129, the subsequent July Cup winners have failed to hit those heights again.
July Cup memories: 1995 - 2002
Lake Coniston (1995), Anabaa (1996) and Stravinsky (1999) were above average winners of the July Cup but the presence of 50-1 shot Compton Place in 1997 highlights the difficulty the race is going through since 1990 in trying to sift for top quality sprinters.
Compton Place was rated alongside Royal Applause and Elnadim at the top of the ladder that year and the latter went on to win the July Cup 12 months later under Richard Hills when the 3-1 favourite.
The year 2000 saw a landmark when Agnes World lined up under Japanese stellar jockey Yutake Take, for trainer Hideyuki Mori and owner Takao Watanabe to become the first Japanese horse to win a race in Britain. Sent off the 4-1 favourite the Japanese raider accounted for nine other rivals to spark a shake-up of the July Cup. The age of non-European representation had begun.
July Cup memories: 2003 - 2011
Choisir was the next foreign challenger to try his hand having won the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes in thrilling fashion at Royal Ascot in 2003. The Australian raider was the 9-4 favourite but was ground down by Oasis Dream, who prevailed by a length and a half.
Further big-priced winners followed, however, with the mare Frizzante, who scored at 14-1 in 2004, while Pastoral Pursuits won at 20-1 and denied 40-1 shots Avonbridge and Etlaala.
Les Arcs (2006) and Fleeting Spirit (2009) were also sent off at double-figure prices, before Starspangledbanner and Dream Ahead righted the ship with two quality performances.