The opening day of the much-anticipated July Cup Festival at Newmarket Racecourse in England more than lived up to expectations, although perhaps, it did not match the excitement of England’s nail-biting victory over Denmark to qualify for the Euro 2020 final the previous night.
With sports fans turning their attention to the flat, and the headquarters of British racing that is Newmarket, there was still a lot to savour, particularly for Dubai connections.
Here are five highlights from the day’s action.
Yibir strikes for Godolphin
Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby’s yard is flying and it was not surprising to see the exciting Yibir register his first success as a three-year-old in the gruelling 2,600m Bahrain Trophy. It was not the first time that Godolphin were winning the race, with Saeed Bin Surour having sent out Kite Wood to claim the silverware in 2009, and it certainly won’t be the last.
With James Doyle sitting in for the suspended William Buick aboard Yibir, the smart son of Dubawi did everything that was asked of him by his jockey to come home a comfortable two-and-a-half-length winner over the Shadwell-owned Mandoob. “He won like a very nice horse,” Doyle told ITV Racing. “I’m delighted with him. We had to be brave.”
It’s that man Oisin again
The champion jockey Oisin Murphy’s silken skills were on display for all to see in the opening race of the afternoon, with the crowds back in attendance, when he booted home 20/1 chance Frankella in the British Stallions Stud Maiden. When he’s at the top of his game, Murphy is a delight to watch and even if he did disappoint favourite watchers, who were rooting for third-placed Lovely Mana, he is becoming more and more a fan favourite.
Just like his name suggests, Frankella is a smart two-year-old son of the outstanding racehorse, Frankel.
What Oisin can do, so can I, says de Souza
Former British champion jockey Silvestre de Souza may not have been having things go his own way in recent years, but the Brazilian rider does not waste the opportunity to remind racegoers of his talents in the saddle. The Dubai World Cup-winning jockey, who has made the UK his home since 2006, teamed up with the 11/1 chance Blackrod to capture the Bet365 Heritage Handicap over six furlongs from James Doyle and Apollo One.
Norton denies Al Aasy
Odds-on favourite Al Aasy was narrowly denied victory by Ron Priestley in the feature race of the afternoon, the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes, but it was a well-deserved success for record-breaking handler Mark Johnston and jockey Franny Norton. “I got a bit of a fright when he came out of the gates because he lost his back end,” said Norton. “But then after two strides he rolled on into it, and then I knew it would come down to a war. To be fair I was kind of emptying a little bit as well, but it would have to take a brave one to get by him.” The brave one was Al Aasy, however, he had to settle for second just like he did at last month’s Coronation Cup at Epsom. His day will come.
Shadwell rewarded for their resilience
The powerful Shadwell global racing stable may have had to endure heartache more than one at the July Course on Thursday, but they were finally rewarded when Baaeed delivered the goods for former champion jockey Jim Crowley in the Listed Stakes run in honour of the late, great training wizard, Sir Henry Cecil. And Crowley left nothing to chance this time around aboard the son of Sea The Stars smoothly taking control at the two-furlong mark to pull clear for a dominant victory. Good things come to those who wait, and Crowley truly deserved a victory as affirmative as this.