Charlton holding his breath

Roger Charlton admits a decision on whether ante-post favourite Bated Breath will take his chance in the Darley July Cup is unlikely to be made until this morning.

Beaten just half a length in the six-furlong Group One 12 months ago, a first victory at the highest level has continued to prove elusive.

The five-year-old was beaten a nose in Haydock’s Sprint Cup, a neck in a Grade One in Canada and after making a winning return in the Temple Stakes, he was narrowly beaten by Little Bridge in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

A proven fast-ground performer, the recent rain has not been in his favour, but Charlton is leaning towards letting his star sprinter line up if owner Khalid Abdullah gives the green light.

“I haven’t really had any more thoughts about it since Thursday, to be honest. He’s in the race and he’ll stay in the race. We’ll think about it and discuss it,” said Charlton.

“I’m afraid it will probably be tomorrow before we make a final decision. If for some reason we make a decision before then, I’ll let everybody know what we’re doing.

“There’s been more rain overnight and the ground is going to be soft whichever way you look at it.

“It’s a feeling of frustration really. It applies to a lot of trainers, I’m sure, this weather is driving us mad as so few Flat horses want soft ground.

“He’s as well as I can have him and he must have a favourite’s chance, but on soft ground I just don’t know.

“He should have really won at Woodbine when it was soft as he went round the whole field.

“I’m tempted to run but I will be guided by the owner.”

A horse whose participation appears in serious doubt is the Richard Hannon-trained Strong Suit.

After finishing down the field behind Frankel in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, the four-year-old was set for his first start over six furlongs since his juvenile days.

However, despite being supplemented on Monday to the tune of £30,000, connections will not let him take his chance if conditions are deemed too testing.

“The owners were aware of the risk they were taking when they supplemented Strong Suit at the start of the week, but their first priority is the horse, and if we think that the ground will be unsuitable then he will not run,” the trainer told his website www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.

“Strong Suit is just too valuable a horse to take any chances with and Thursday night’s rain has probably put the dampener on any hopes that we had, which is a shame as he is ready to run, and it does not look the best renewal of the July Cup.

“If we pull out, we will probably aim him at the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood, and then there is the Prix Maurice de Gheest in France, but his programme will be determined by the ground, and we just hope that it might dry up sooner rather than later.”

Whether Strong Suit lines up or not, Hannon is still set to be represented in the race, with Libranno stepping back up in grade following victories at Salisbury and Newmarket.

Last year's Golden Jubilee winner Society Rock missed the break in this year's renewal of the renamed Diamond Jubilee, but flew home to finish fifth behind Black Caviar.

Trainer James Fanshawe hopes subsequent stalls practice will have ironed out his starting problem and he is keeping his fingers crossed his charge will be effective on the soft underfoot conditions.

“I don’t know how he’ll handle the ground. I don’t think any of us are going to know until they race on it,” said Fanshawe.

“He’s handles good to soft ground at Ascot and it was fairly soft when he was second to Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, but we’ll see.

“The horse seems in good shape since his run at Ascot and we’ve done some practising in the stalls, so we just hope he goes on the ground now.”

While Black Caviar has now returned to Australia, there is still a major challenger from Down Under in the shape of Paul Messara’s Ortensia.

A Group One winner in her homeland and in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, the seven-year-old got worked up prior to the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and subsequently ran no sort of race.

Messara is expecting a much calmer mare to show up at Headquarters, however, and like others his only real concern is the ground.”

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