Hanson: Spot plays for Newmarket July 9 card
For followers of English racing, the summertime festivals held at Newmarket, Goodwood, and York are generally delightful opportunities to scope out winners. Newmarket's July Festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday this week, will have seven Group stakes during that span, plus an assortment of top-quality handicaps and maiden races.
As our focus is mainly on the Group stakes, here are thoughts on Friday's two features.
Duchess of Cambridge S. (G2) -- Newmarket Race 3 (9:25 a.m. ET)
This six-furlong test for two-year-old fillies, formerly known as the Cherry Hinton, is an opportunity for us to give #4 HELLO YOU (7-2) a bet back. Our top selection in last month's Albany (G3) at Royal Ascot, Hello You turned in a big effort to finish second to returning rival #8 Sandrine. On heavy going, Hello You was placed more forwardly than expected, based on the evidence of her debut, while Sandrine enjoyed a far more favorable waiting trip in behind.
The testing conditions caught out Hello You in the final furlong or so, but the feeling is she's quite capable of reversing that form here on a surface that's not forecast to be as demanding.
Falmouth S. (G1) -- Newmarket Race 5 (10:35 a.m. ET)
Just as the result of the Albany was not necessarily a true bill, given the state of the ground at Ascot, neither necessarily was the Coronation (G1) later on that June 18 card. That three-year-old filly feature has yielded most of the top contenders in this race, and the general feeling is the classic generation possesses the edge over the handful of older mares that will line up here.
Coronation winner #6 Alcohol Free is the early favorite. She's admirably consistent, no doubt, but might simply have been flattered by the heavy Coronation ground, which she obviously handled better than her rivals. We'll instead give #12 SAFFRON BEACH (15-1) a look at a price. Saffron Beach bypassed the Coronation after taking in the Epsom Oaks (G1) two weeks earlier. That race, and likely her performance, was also affected by deep ground, but she probably wasn't going to stay 1 1/2 miles at any rate.
All of Saffron Beach's previous runs were over Newmarket's main course, where she registered two wins and two seconds. One of the latter was the 1000 Guineas (G1), in which she finished only a length behind #9 Mother Earth and a length ahead of Alcohol Free. She might not ultimately prove better than either of those two right now, but at the expected price and over conditions she'll likely find more suitable, we're willing to find out.