Newmarket’s three-day July Festival concludes Saturday with a cracking renewal of the July Cup (G1) for three and older sprinters as the highlight. The program also includes the Superlative (G2), a 7-furlong test for juveniles that has yielded many future stars, and the 7-furlong Bunbury Cup, one of the summer’s most popular handicaps in Britain.
While sidestepping the 18-horse (at this writing) Bunbury Cup, the two group stakes on the program offer a few appealing possibilities.
Race 6 — Superlative Stakes (G2) — 10 a.m. ET
#5 MASTER OF THE SEAS (5-1) beat just three rivals in his debut going seven panels on the Rowley Mile course, but one was next-out winner William Bligh. The others were some 10 lengths behind that pair, who were separated by three parts of a length at the finish. Master of the Seas traveled smoothly enough and responded well against a rival that already had had a benefit of a run. The step up to the Superlative is a logical move.
Like some others in the field, Master of the Seas boasts some pedigree power. His sire, Dubawi, won the Superlative in 2004, and the Godolphin-owned colt is out of a French 1000 Guineas (G1)-placed mare whose other offspring include UAE Oaks (G3) winner Falls of Lora and St James’s Palace (G1) runner-up Latharnach. Master of the Seas’ second dam, Kerrera, won the Cherry Hinton (G3) at the 1988 July Festival and later placed in the 1000 Guineas (G1).
Race 7 — July Cup (G1) — 10:35 a.m. ET
He was 5-1 when upsetting Calyx in the Sandy Lane (G2), 9-2 when taking the Sprint Cup (G1) at Haydock last autumn, and 4-1 when victorious in last month’s Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot. The exciting thing about #3 HELLO YOUMZAIN (5-1) is that not only is he a top-flight sprinter in the UK, as we just recounted, but his odds for the July Cup figure to be right around what was on offer for those three victories.
The son of Kodiac has run only two sub-par races in nine starts so far, finishing fourth in last year’s Greenham (G3) after acting up a bit in the gate and failing to race smoothly thereafter, and eighth in the British Champions Sprint (G1) last fall over very heavy ground. Conditions on Saturday figure to be soft but not too soft, which are more than agreeable.
An intriguing each-way/exotics contender is #12 Southern Hills (50-1), undoubtedly in need of a race when seventh in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot following a one-year layoff. Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien seemingly think highly of his long-term prospects to continue on this ambitious road, and worth noting connections have won the last two renewals of this race with 3-year-olds.