Star set for July bid

Racegoers at Newmarket next week will be thrilled by Aidan O’Brien’s Starspangledbanner after the trainer confirmed the Royal Ascot winner bang on target for the Darley July Cup.

Racegoers at Newmarket next week will be thrilled by Aidan O’Brien’s Starspangledbanner after the trainer confirmed the Royal Ascot winner bang on target for the Darley July Cup.

The Australian import had been burning up the Ballydoyle gallops following his British debut at York in May and he transferred that electric pace to the track as he made all along the stands rail in the Golden Jubilee Stakes.

The four-year-old had been covering furlongs in less than 10 seconds at home and this morning hardened into 9-4 favouritism with Paddy Power for Europe’s richest sprint on Friday week.

O’Brien said: “We have never had a horse who can do those fractions and his work before Ascot was incredible.

“We knew from his first half-speed that he was fast and he had speed we had not seen before.

“We knew he was exceptional and that he was a big, powerful horse. He was class before we got him and he was good enough to win over a mile in Australia.

“He has seemed in good form and hasn’t done an awful lot since then but it is so far so good.

“The faster the ground, the better it will suit him as he has that speed.”

O’Brien added of his future career: “He could run in the July Cup and then go to stud to stand in Australia that season but we are taking it one step at a time really.”

A little under two lengths adrift in second at Royal Ascot was James Fanshawe's Society Rock who belied his 50-1 starting price under Pat Cosgrave.

Fanshawe said: “He ran a screamer and is obviously the leading three-year-old sprinter in Europe at the moment.

“We had the choice of going to Ascot or going for a race at Salisbury but we thought he had won at Ascot and that if he was drawn well it would help, so we went into the race positive.

“It was such a big run that there has to be a slight concern running back just three weeks later. His owner is local and from Exning and is keen to run but we will play it by ear.

“If he is OK then he will go and at the moment he seems well so we will take it from there.

“Fleeting Spirit ran really well at Ascot (fourth) when she was drawn on the wrong side. When there are a lot of runners in these sprint races you need luck, a good draw and a clear run.”

Fleeting Spirit was indeed unlucky when leading home the far side group on her seasonal bow but trainer Jeremy Noseda believes she would have fared no better than second had the flying filly been drawn near to the winner.

“I think she would have been second had she been drawn stands side and we will find out if she can improve on that next Friday,” he said.

“I could not have been happier with her since Ascot and I was delighted with the way she ran.

“She will improve 5-7lb from her first run to her second as she was a little further behind than I wanted going into the race.

“She had work on her front ankles through the winter and was a little behind.”

The five-year-old was partnered by Tom Queally when scooping last year’s July Cup and although the Irishman is in the frame again, Noseda is keeping his cards close to his chest regarding jockey plans.

“Tom rode her last year and both Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori have offered their services, but in my mind I have set a way to go” said Noseda.

“When you have jockeys of the calibre of Ryan and Frankie available, you cannot dismiss them lightly.

“We will talk about it but this could be her last season.

“The Nunthorpe and Haydock Sprint Cup are obvious races later in the year but she has never settled travelling abroad and that is something I wouldn’t really want to take on board again.”

Noseda also has another string to his July Cup bow with Laddies Poker Two also engaged after the grey landed a colossal gamble in the Wokingham after being backed into 9-2 favouritism from ante-post prices of 25-1.

“She is ready to run but is in the same ownership as Starspangledbanner,” added Noseda.

“If her owners want to run then she will, but the Hackwood at Newbury is more likely.”

Kinsale King was kept in Newmarket by Carl O'Callaghan after the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner delighted the Californian trainer with third in the Golden Jubilee.

“To finish third was like winning for us,” said O’Callaghan, fresh from a recent trip back to America.

“He ran his heart out and it was only his first time running on turf and running in a straight line.

“He has been pretty consistent since I got him but I have never ran him back in the space of three weeks and I was worried about that.

“However, I got back from America last night and he could not have trained any better this morning.

“He has settled in now and doesn’t have to travel to the races this time.

“Last time he bounced into the country and had to run, which is tough for horses.”

Kieren Fallon will again be aboard the five-year-old and the trainer is hoping that Kinsale King will be able to serve it up to Starspangledbanner at an early stage.

“You have to be smart, like in basketball, and I don’t want to be too far back. I want him to look the winner in the eye and make a race of it,” he said.

“He needs to be quick out of the gate and if he is then we can get rocking and rolling and it will be a great race.”

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