July Stakes Betting

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East England’s answer to the Royal Ascot meeting in June is the Newmarket July Festival. It is an extravaganza of stunning fashions and top-class racing staged over a three-day weekend in early July. Among its most enduring and eagerly awaited races is the six-furlong July Stakes on Day Two—Abu Dhabi Day—contested on the straight turf of the highly regarded Newmarket Racecourse.

This £80,000 Group 2 flat race is open only to two-year-old colts and geldings. All of the runners carry eight stone twelve pounds, with a penalty of three pounds applied for previous winners of Group 1 or Group 2 races.

The event was first established in 1786, making it the oldest surviving event in the British flat racing calendar exclusively for two-year-olds. During much of its history, the July Stakes was open to horses of either gender, although conditions back then required that any horses sired by the champions Eclipse or Highflyer would have to carry an additional weight of three pounds.

One of the earliest superstars of the July Stakes was Crucifix. The bay filly won here in 1839 and went on undefeated in twelve career starts, including the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks in 1940. Another great sprinter was Orlando, a bay colt that won here in 1843 and then captured the Epsom Derby the following year. That feat was repeated in 1848-49 by The Flying Dutchman, who finished up his racing life with wins in the St. Leger and the Gold Cup at Ascot.

Opening up the 20th century, Sceptre won here in 1901 as a filly before going on to become the only mare to ever win the four British Classics outright. The 1948 July Stakes champion Nimbus V won two Classics in 1949—the 2,00 Guineas and the Epsom Derby—and 1985’s victor Green Desert returned a year later to claim the July Cup.

When the July Stakes received its first official classification in 1971, it was accorded Group 3 status. When the prohibition of fillies came in 1977, most of them moved over to the July Festival’s Cherry Hinton Stakes. The promotion of this race to the Group 2 level was effected in 2003.

Prior to 1996, the July Stakes was sponsored by Anglia Television and then the SBJ Group. Thereafter, TNT International Aviation took the title spot and the event has been officially known as the TNT July Stakes since 2000.

Two jockeys share the honour of attaining six July Stakes wins. George Fordham started on his half dozen with Tolurno in 1861, followed by Robin Hood in 1865, Lady Elizabeth in 1867, Ecossais in 1873, Levant in 1875 and Ruperra in 1878. Decades later, Sir Gordon Richards reprised the achievement with Hilla in 1934, High Sheriff in 1944, Rivaz in 1945, Masaka in 1947, Diableretta in 1949 and Tamerlane in 1954.

Among trainers, only one holds the top spot here. That’s Frank Butters, who schooled four of the knight rider’s mounts—Hilla, Rivaz, Masaka and Diableretta—after winning with Fairway in 1927 and Alishah in 1933. Butters added a seventh victory in 1937 with Mirza II.

In more recent years, Frankie Dettori, Kieren Fallon and Jimmy Fortune have each piloted three fillies to the finish post first. Meanwhile, Richard Hannon and Peter Chapple-Hyam have trained two winners apiece in the past decade.

Handicapping this event is no easy task. In the past five years, the field has varied greatly from a low five to a high of thirteen starters. During that time, only one favourite triumphed—Winker Watson paying 11/7 in 2007—while two long-odds sprinters prevailed: Strategic Prince at 16/1 in 2006 and Libranno at 10/1 in 2010.

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