Trainer Kevin Ryan is hoping that his decision to skip Royal Ascot and wait for the Darley July Cup with Brando will bear fruit when the Pivotal gelding takes part in the centrepiece of the Moët & Chandon July Festival at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Saturday (14th July).
The fourth of seven races in the Sprint category of the QIPCO British Champions Series and the first time that three-year-olds get to take on older horses over six furlongs at Group 1 level, the £500,000 Darley July Cup received 19 entries at today’s confirmation stage.
Brando was one of seven different individual Group 1 winners among the entries. He won the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs at Deauville last August.
He is also a Newmarket course specialist. Unbeaten in three starts at the Rowley Mile, including back-to-back victories in the Group 3 Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes, he finished third in the 2017 Darley July Cup on his only previous start at the Adnams July Course.
He has run well on both his starts since that second Abernant triumph, finishing runner-up in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes at York on 16th May and fourth in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes in Ireland ten days later.
His potential rivals on Saturday are led by the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes winner, Blue Point, and the three-year-olds Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali, first and second in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, not to mention Limato, winner of this race in 2016 and second 12 months ago.
Irish Champion Trainer Aidan O’Brien has no less than ten of the 19 entries, including last year’s dual Rowley Mile Group 1 scorer, U S Navy Flag, while further international flavour is added to the race by the presence of the Australian hope Redkirk Warrior, a three-time Group 1 hero Down Under.
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Brando, said:
“I have been training Brando especially for the Darley July Cup and he is in great form.”
“I don’t know what it is about Newmarket but he seems to love the place, he must like running downhill. He is a big heavy-topped horse yet is very well-balanced and seems to relish running down into the dip – he wasn’t beaten very far in this race last year.”
“It was a difficult decision to skip Royal Ascot but I wanted him to run in the Darley July Cup and then defend his Prix Maurice de Gheest title and I didn’t think it would be fair on him to go to Ascot as well. You can’t run in all these championship races.”
“We probably backed him up just a little too soon in the Greenlands Stakes. He was a little below par that day and things didn’t really work out for him in the race either.”
“In his younger days he was very soft ground dependent but now he handles all types of ground. I saw pictures of the July Course the other day and it looked in great nick.”