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Limato seeks historic triumph in Darley July Cup

12 Jul 2018

Henry Candy hoping his stable star can win Newmarket feature for a second time.

Limato was runner-up in the July Cup last year after winning in it 12 months earlier. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Henry Candy hopes Limato can make history by becoming the first horse to reclaim his Darley July Cup crown at Newmarket on Saturday.

The brilliant 2016 winner found only Harry Angel too strong last year and is back for another crack at the £500,000 six-furlong showpiece, which is the fourth leg of the Sprint Category in the QIPCO British Champions Series, having failed to shine in two starts over a mile this year.

“Limato has not been any different at home than he was this time last year, though that has not been reflected in his two starts this season,” Candy said. “He ran much too free in the Queen Anne last time – that’s why we are dropping him back to sprinting.

“He does seem to like Newmarket, though I can’t put my finger on why, and if he were to become to the first horse to reclaim the Darley July Cup title it would be very welcome.”

Each of its past five winners have gone on to be crowned as the top European-trained sprinter in the end-of-season World Thoroughbred Rankings and Blue Point must be in the reckoning for that title after taming Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

He heads the betting at about 3-1 but will have to cope with five Aidan O’Brien challengers, including the dual juvenile Group 1 winner of last autumn, U S Navy Flag.

The three-year-old generation has five more representatives, spearheaded by Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali, first and second (separated by half a length) in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Other leading home-trained candidates are Brando, third in this race last year and subsequently successful in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, and the very lightly-raced Dreamfield, making his initial stakes race start having finished second as the hot favourite for the Wokingham at Royal Ascot.

An intercontinental flavour is added by the presence in the line-up of Redkirk Warrior. A three-time Group 1 hero Down Under, he will be a first ride in Europe for 21-year-old Australian jockey Regan Bayliss.

“Limato is in very good form but Blue Point will take an awful lot of beating,” Candy predicted.