Jamie Lynch's July Festival Preview: A Blue Week?

 Jul 7 2016

Then again, the run-on and on  sentence replaced what was supposed to be a full stop on Saturday, when The Gurkha was 4/6, as were Belgium.
If the Big Time was a club, Godolphin have, more recently, only been peering through the tinted windows, gazing and craving the hedonism within, and numerous attempts using numerous people to sneak back in have been largely rebuffed by the Group 1 bouncers, the different overcoats failing to disguise the washed-out blue uniform. 

But this year they're back, not all the way into the VIP lounge as yet, but getting a foot in the foyer with big handicap wins, then onto the bar at Royal Ascot, before hitting the dance floor with Hawkbill in the high-prestige Eclipse.
The question of whether Hawkbill is a turning point or a high point will be answered, at least in part, by the July meeting, which could turn a significant week into a seismic one for Godolphin, who have plenty of irons in the fire, intent on striking while they're hot. And so here are ten Godolphin horses for Newmarket who will be out to make a momentum mountain out of a Hawkbill...

PRIZE MONEY
Bahrain Trophy, Thursday
Hawkbill is the new pin-up, yet he wasn't even the lead singer in the three-member boy band unleashed by Godolphin in the Tercentenery Stakes, Prize Money going off favourite, but going off too eagerly, the difference between first and second on the day.
The Mikey Graham of that particular boy band, Race Day, didn't give Prize Money much help at Royal Ascot, but he'll surely service him better here to contend with the longer trip, and it's in Harbour Law's interest to make it a good test. If Prize Money settles, he could finally sign off on that unfinished business that's been hovering over him.

USHERETTE
Falmouth Stakes, Friday
Group 1s might be like buses for Godolphin: pretty empty bar the odd time.
Hawkbill may be looking down a steep hill after scaling the peak at Sandown, but you get the feeling that Usherette is pitching her tent at the top, there to stay. The Falmouth looks more of a coronation than a challenge for her, already a Group 1 filly to all intents and purposes, suggested by Newmarket and confirmed at Royal Ascot, bilingual by now after doing her higher education in Britain. The glitz and glamour of the Breeders' Cup is calling her, and a global supermodel is exactly what Godolphin wants and needs.

FLASH FIRE
Bunbury Cup, Saturday
Lincolns, Hunt Cups, Northumberland Plates and Victoria Cups: Godolphin regained respect en route to its regained status by targeting the big handicaps, making lemonade out of the lemons it had. Flash Fire delivered the Victoria Cup, and was too bad to be true in the Wokingham, out to re-straighten the record in the Bunbury Cup, but in truth it would be a surprise if he hit back against better-handicapped rivals.
There is a Silver Bunbury Cup now, though, on the Friday, and Godolphin has a better shot at that with one or both of Hold Tight and Yattwee, the latter only a 3-y-o, but Hold Tight has just five races behind him and will be more prepared for this than the Victoria Cup, in which he went off a much shorter price than Flash Fire.

ELITE ARMY
Princess of Wales's Stakes, Thursday
He's always had a Group-race engine, though the chassis isn't the most robust and the choke needs replacing. Nevertheless, the pre-season service has fixed at least a few of the problems and he's back in the fast lane now, supplementing his listed win with an excellent second under a big weight in a Royal Ascot handicap.

In theory, he has around 7 lb more to find heading into a Group 2, but in practice it may not be so black and white as that, with the higher-rated contenders having various points to prove, The Grey Gatsby going up in trip, Exosphere coming off a flop, and Second Step getting the wobbles this year. It's graduation day for Elite Army, and the champagne is chilling, as are his main rivals, a chance to catch them cold.

NASIMI
Duke of Cambridge Stakes, Friday
Fair Eva, daughter of you-know-who, is the filly flavour of the month, but Nasimi did much the same to Nations Alexander (subsequent listed winner) on her debut as Fair Eva did on hers. Bletchley sets a high standard after her fast-finishing second in the Albany, and it may be a class bridge too far for Nasimi, but equally she could be something special, worth paying to find out.
Like mother, like daughter? Her dam, Gamilati, won this very race in 2011 when it was known as the Cherry Hinton.

STRONG CHALLENGE
6f 3-y-o Handicap, Thursday
Birchwood 3/1; Galileo Gold 9/2; Ibn Malik 5/1. The one right amongst them in the betting for last year's Vintage Stakes was Strong Challenge, who pulled too hard over the 7f trip, yet was kept to it for his reappearance, with the same outcome. 
The foundation for his prominence in the market was the race before, over 6f, when he made short work of Gutaifan, who ended up one of the best in the division, culminating with a crack at the Abbaye as a 2-y-o. On that form alone, a mark of 92 looks favourable for Strong Challenge, more so now he's back in the sprinting workplace.

BLAIR HOUSE
1m Handicap, Friday
There's unlikely to be a better-treated runner, and there certainly won't be a less-exposed one, if Blair House takes up his engagement on Friday. If his debut win was a surprise, at 14/1, the only surprise about his second run was that he didn't win, but he should have done, asked a lot for one so inexperienced, too much to catch the front runner, but shaping very well again.
By Pivotal out of a sister to Poet's Voice, Blair House is destined for bigger and better things, and this bigger and better field on Friday will only help him show his true colours all the more.

SILVER LINE
July Stakes, Thursday
It's a Royal Ascot afterparty, including the winner of the Windsor Castle (Ardad), the second from the Coventry (Mehmas), and the third out of the Norfolk, Silver Line. He achieved less than the other two, but was beaten less than a length by Prince of Lir, and stepping up to 6f should unlock more improvement.
But it's a strong renewal, with various sharp risers, chiefly Medici Banchiere, the sort of promising youngster who may not be wearing Godolphin blue now, but the owner has probably never before had half-a-million euros/pounds (same thing now) put on a table in front of him.

NEWCOMERS
There are three Godolphin first-timers across the two divisions of the 6f fillies' maiden on the Thursday, and more to be unleashed through the week, all of them - needless to say - bred to be pattern performers.
Godolphin won the aforementioned maiden with newcomers in 2011 and 2012, latterly with Certify, who went unbeaten through the season all the way to the Fillies' Mile, but those were the dark days of Al Zarooni, gone but not forgotten.

NEW RIDERS
James McDonald
'Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.' - Oscar Wilde.
William Buick's corrupted charm on the French stewards left him leafing through the travel brochers, but when that door closed for a month, another opened for James McDonald, whose Godolphin link became a chain, secured when he galvanised Anitquarium in the Plate. He's jumping on the juggernaut at just the right time.



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