The Moët & Chandon July Festival is one of British racing’s truly international summer meetings, with a host of high-quality races attracting the best horses.
The 21 races from Thursday to Saturday are worth a superb record prize-money fund of £1,682,500 this year.
The Darley July Cup, a £500,000 Group 1, is historically Europe’s premier sprint race and has been won by greats such as Chief Singer, Green Desert, Anabaa, Oasis Dream and Dream Ahead.
As part of the Global Sprint Challenge, Saturday’s showpiece always attracts strong international competition and this year is no different, with Brazen Beau, the Australian runner, the headline name.
There will be a strong challenge from many of Europe’s established leading sprinters, with Irish-trained horses having triumphed twice in the last five years, including Slade Power 12 months ago.
But perhaps the greatest international attention will be on the other Group 1 and QIPCO British Champions Series contest, the QIPCO Falmouth Stakes, which is Friday’s highlight.
There could be three French-trained horses in what is a fascinating race every year because it is the first opportunity of the season to see how the Classic generation of fillies compare with their elders.
Lucida, the Irish-trained filly second by three-quarters of-a-length to Legatissimo in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, is set to represent the three-year-olds, taking on her elder fillies and mares.
She is likely to be the market leader, with French raider Avenir Certain the major threat.
Away from Group 1, the July Festival traditionally showcases emerging stars in three Group 2 races for two-year-olds.
Another Group 2 is the Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes, the feature event on Ladies’ Day today.
The handicaps too, over all three days, are always intriguing, none more so than the ruthlessly competitive bet365 Bunbury Cup on Saturday.
Other matters of note at the July Festival this year are leading jockey and trainer.
In 2014, the most successful riders were Newmarket’s Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes, each with four winners.
They are the leading contenders for the new Flat Jockeys’ Championship in 2015, which was launched at Newmarket at the QIPCO Guineas Festival.
The leading trainer in 2014 was Richard Hannon jnr with four winners.
He followed in the footsteps of his father, who was leading trainer 12 months before.
n Remarkably, it is 50 years ago this week that stalls were used for the first time in British racing — at Newmarket.
It was on July 8, 1965, that the Chesterfield Stakes, a race for two-year-olds and won by Track Spare ridden by Lester Piggott, made racing history.
Before then, flat races were started using a flag.
Search for ‘starting stalls’ on Google and find a Pathe News film showing how they got on that first day in 1965.
Sectional timing is a subject of big interest to quite a number of punters.
n The TurfTrax Sectional Timing and Tracking System will make its second visit of the season to Newmarket.
We now have a very comprehensive database of sectional timing information available for many of our key fixtures, and once again it will be bringing enhanced information to racegoers via closed-circuit televisions and giant screens around the racecourse.
For all the details about Newmarket Racecourses, visit www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk