Focus on the favourite

Golden Horde (5/2)

Golden Horde was a smart two-year-old last season, with his only below-par effort coming when third in the Prix Morny on soft ground. That followed his success in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood – when beating another July Cup contender Threat by three quarters of a length – and he improved again when second on his final start in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket (Rowley Mile), showing a good attitude to make Earthlight pull out all the stops.

Off the track for nine months afterwards, Golden Horde continued his record of run-to-run progression when running out a comfortable winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on his reappearance. Admittedly, he was better placed than most given how the race developed, with those who raced in the far-side group proving at a big disadvantage, but that shouldn’t detract from what he achieved, recording a good time as he made just about all in the near-side group.

That form sets the standard here on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, getting 6 lb from each of his older rivals. He may yet have even more to offer, too, so it’s easy to see why he heads the betting for the Clive Cox yard that won this race in 2013 and 2017.

An outsider to consider

Brando (25/1)

Brando has been a terrific servant to his connections over the years, with his big wins including the Ayr Gold Cup (2016), the Prix Maurice de Gheest (2017) and back-to-back renewals of the Abernant Stakes (2017 and 2018). His record in this contest also stands up to scrutiny, finishing third behind Harry Angel in 2017 and second behind U S Navy Flag in 2018.

Admittedly, he could manage only seventh in the race 12 months ago, but the efforts he produced to hit the frame in three other Group 1s last season showed that he retains most of his ability, notably going down by just a neck at the hands of Advertise in the latest renewal of the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

There was also plenty of encouragement to be taken from his most recent outing in the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle, quickly bouncing back after a below-par effort on his return in the Abernant. Held-up in the early stages, he briefly had to wait for a gap entering the final furlong but stayed on strongly once in the clear, doing well from where he came from to get within a length and a half of the winner, Judicial.

That run confirmed that he still has plenty to offer at the age of eight, and, whilst a belated win in this race may prove beyond him, his fine record at this track suggests it could prove folly to dismiss him for place purposes.

A stat to note

Clive Cox (Golden Horde) has a 26% strike rate in the last 14 days

Clive Cox’s belief in Golden Horde has been unwavering in the build-up to the July Cup, comparing him favourably with his previous winners of the race, Lethal Force (2013) and Harry Angel (2017). His confidence will also have been boosted by the fine form of the yard in recent days, with nine winners from 35 runners on the board before racing began on Thursday, including an impressive success for the promising Supremacy at Windsor on Monday. Cox is performing well by Timeform’s run-to-form metric, too, with 70% of all his runners running up to their pre-race rating, and that can only bode well as Golden Horde bids for further Group 1 success on Saturday.

The Verdict

Three-year-olds have won four of the last five renewals of the July Cup, and that age group looks to hold the upper hand again here with Golden Horde, who appeals as very much the one beat after his victory in the Commonwealth Cup. He has improved with racing throughout his career, and it's not hard to envisage him climbing higher still in the ratings, so it will be a tough ask for one of the older horses to concede 6 lb to him here. Hello Youmzain and Sceptical finished first and third, respectively, in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, and that form identifies them as the biggest dangers to Golden Horde according to Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings. At a bigger price, Brando also merits consideration. He has hit the frame in this race twice already, and the forecast strong gallop here could play into the hands of one who likes to be delivered for a late run.

Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:

  • 133     Golden Horde
  • 132     Hello Youmzain
  • 130     Sceptical
  • 129     Khaadem
  • 127     Oxted
  • 127     Sir Dancealot